Archive for May 22, 2011
Another Blow to the Military Establishment
Heavily armed gunmen attacked a Pakistani naval base outside the economic center of Karachi Sunday night (May 22), killing at least a dozen people and destroying two long-range naval surveillance aircraft presented to Pakistan by the U.S., according to te Washington Post and other news outlets. Pakistani security forces did not regain control of the base until late Monday afternoon (May 23), the Los Angeles Times reported
The Pakistani Taliban took credit for the attack, saying it was to exact vengeance for the U.S. commando raid inside Pakistan that killed al Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden on May 1.
It was the second attack on Pakistani naval forces in as many months. In April, three people were killed and more than 30 wounded when bombs were detonated near two buses carry navy personnel. The Karachi attack was the worst on Pakistani military installation since extremists attacked Pakistan army headquarters in 2009, leaving 23 people dead, including nine militants. The Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) agency – the main Pakistani intelligence service — has also seen its headquarters bombed.
The attacks call into question how well Pakistani security forces can safeguard their own military facilities, especially the country’s nuclear arsenal — believed to contain about 100 warheads, said the Financial Times. Seventeen U.S. and Chinese technicians at the naval aviation facility were evacuated safely, Pakistani officials said.
Authorities said 12 Pakistani commandos and soldiers were killed in the attack. Another 14 were injured. Officials did not reveal how many of the militants were killed. The Karachi attackers also destroyed two Lockheed Martin Orion P-3C maritime surveillance aircraft transferred to the Pakistani Navy in 2010. The four-engine, turboprop aircraft were deliberately targeted in the attack, the Pakistani Navy said. The P-3Cs were the first of eight to be handed over to Pakistan by 2012, according to U.S. Central Command.
Updates with attack ending, new casualty figures, Chinese and U.S. technicians safe, blow to Pakistani security services’ prestige, and two aircraft destroyed.