Posts Tagged ‘ Pakistan Navy ’

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.

Gunmen Storm Pakistan’s Naval Aviation Base

By Faisal Aziz for Reuters

Gunmen attacked Pakistan’s naval aviation base on Sunday, starting fires, setting off explosions and fighting pitched gunbattles inside one of the country’s most heavily guarded military installations.

Officials said at least four people had been killed in the attack on PNS Mehran in the southern city of Karachi. Between 15 to 20 gunmen were inside and had attacked hangars housing aircraft, officials said. Witnesses said they could hear gunshots and see smoke rising from the base.

“They were equipped with sophisticated weapons,” navy spokesman Commodore Irfan ul-Haq told Reuters. Another spokesman said that one P-3C Orion, a maritime partrol aircraft, had been destroyed. “The attackers are still inside and intermittent firing is continuing.”

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the militants had attacked from the rear of the base. “We have been able to confine them to one building and an operation is underway either to kill or capture them.” The Karachi attack evoked memories of an assault on Pakistan’s army headquarters in the town of Rawalpindi in 2009, and revived concerns that even the most well-guarded installations in the country remain vulnerable to militants.

Taliban militants, who have vowed to avenge the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by U.S. special forces, have carried out several attacks since his death on May 2.

Officials said the gunmen had attacked three hangars housing aircraft. Nine explosions were reported from the base, with jet fuel tanks possibly catching fire and exploding. Almost three hours after the start of the attack, gunbattles between presumed militants and commandos continued.

A least a dozen ambulances were parked outside the base, waiting to take wounded to hospital. Pakistani military and paramilitary reinforcements were pouring in, with four vehicles carrying about 10 troops each moving into the base. An intelligence official said four people had been killed and five wounded in the Karachi raid.

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani condemned the “terrorist” attack. “Such a cowardly act of terror could not deter the commitment of the government and people of Pakistan to fight terrorism,” Gilani said in statement.

Pakistan has faced a wave of bombings and gun assaults over the last few years, some of them claimed by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), or Pakistani Taliban. Others have been blamed on al Qaeda-linked militant groups once nurtured by the Pakistani military which have since slipped out of control.

The discovery that bin Laden was living in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad, not far from the Pakistan Military Academy, has also revived suspicions that militants may be receiving help from some people within the security establishment.

Pakistan and the United States say the senior leadership in the country did not know bin Laden was in Abbottabad.

On April 28, suspected militants detonated a roadside bomb in Karachi, killing four members of the navy, the third attack on the navy in a week. The attack came two days after two bombs hit buses carrying navy personnel, killing four people and wounding 56. Taliban insurgents took responsibility for the twin attacks.

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