Archive for August 5th, 2011

Karachi Attack: Pakistan Officers Face Court-Martial

As reported by the BBC

Three Pakistani naval officers are to face a court martial on charges of negligence after a militant attack on a naval air base in Karachi in May.

Ten soldiers died and 15 were wounded in the attack which took place at the Mehran naval aviation base on 22 May. It took the security forces some 17 hours to secure the base.

A naval official said the three officers were facing trial because they held positions of responsibility, not because of a connection to the attack.

The accused are Cmdr Raja Tahir, base commander at the time of the attack, and two officials beneath him, at the rank of captain and commander, according to naval sources quoted by several news agencies.

Daring attack

Cmdr Tahir was replaced two days after the attack during which several foreigners were taken hostage before being rescued.

“They face charges of negligence during the attack on PNS Mehran in May,” an unnamed official told Agence France Presse.

No date was given for the start of the court martial.

“They are being tried because they were at a responsible position, and were responsible for the security and other affairs of the base,” an unnamed official was quoted as telling Reuters.

The Pakistan Taliban said the raid was to avenge Osama Bin Laden’s killing by US special forces in the Pakistani town of Abbottabad on 2 May.

The attack at the heart of Karachi, the country’s economic hub and Pakistan’s largest city, underlined the military’s vulnerability.

Two attackers were killed and a third blew himself up during the attack when militants disguised as naval officials stormed three hangars housing aircraft at the naval base.

During the daring raid, they used rocket-propelled grenades to damage and destroy several warplanes, including two multi-million dollar anti-submarine and marine surveillance aircraft – the US-made P-3C Orion.

The planes were believed to be crucial for Pakistan’s maritime surveillance capabilities. A former Pakistani navy commando, Kamran Ahmed, has been detained along with his brother in connection with the attack.

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