Militants Attack Pakistani Air Base
Armed militants attacked Thursday a Pakistani air base about 50 miles from the country's capital, Islamabad.
Pakistan's Dawn newspaper is reporting that the attack on the base in Kamra occurred at 2:30 a.m. local time. Citing sources, the newspaper said the militants were heavily armed with automatic weapons, grenades and suicide vests.
The Associated Press is reporting that the ongoing gun battle left parts of the base in flames.
Here's more from the AP:
"The militants infiltrated the base under the cover of darkness and began battling security forces at around 2 a.m., said Hafeez Aulakh, a police officer standing outside the base. The fighting was still going on three hours later, he said."
The AP reported that special forces soldiers engaged in the battle with militants found the body of a suicide bomber inside. It quoted the Pakistani air force saying the bomber was strapped with explosives. There were no immediate reports of casualties, the AP reported.
Here's more from Dawn about the base:
"Karma airbase is a heavily guarded compound with the Pakistan Air Force's Kamra Aeronautical Complex in its vicinity, where Pakistan assembles and overhauls fighter jets in collaboration with China. Located about 70 kms from the Pakistani capital Islamabad, the base is known to house the PAF's JF-7 Thunder and Mirage jets."
The newspaper said at least 30 aircraft were on the base. Dawn noted that military intelligence officials had warned in recent weeks about the possibility of an attack on military installations, but there was no specific threat against the Kamra base. The area around the base has been attacked in the past, but those attacks were all outside the installation, the AP reported.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, which comes just two days after Pakistan celebrated the anniversary of its independence. But the Pakistan Taliban has been implicated in dozens of recent deadly attacks around the country.
The last major attack in Pakistan against a major military installation came in May 2011 when Taliban militants attacks a naval base in Karachi, killing 10 people. Pakistani troops took 18 hours to regain control. Two U.S.-supplied surveillance aircraft were destroyed.
Update at 10:04 p.m. All Attackers Killed
Dawn is now reporting that there were six attackers, all of whom have been killed. It quoted air force spokesman Tahir Rafiq Butt. Two Pakistani soldiers were also killed.
The report said that some of the militants wore military uniforms. They ranged in age from 19 to 33 years.
The Chinese and other foreign engineers working at the air base were never in danger, but were taken to a safe location, the newspaper said.
Here's more from Dawn:
"The government and military's top leadership, including President Asif Ali Zardari, Chief of Army Staff General Ashfaque Pervez kayani and Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf were notified of the attack, and the operation was being closely monitored by the army chief."