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P3C Orion aircraft were prime targets of Mehran attackers

Last Updated: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - 14:28

Islamabad: US supplied surveillance jets
were the "prime targets" of Taliban militants who possibly received "inside support and help" for their Rambo-style attack on Mehran naval airbase in the Pakistani port city of
Karachi that killed 10 soldiers and destroyed two aircraft.

The Pakistan Navy`s P3C Orion surveillance aircraft
were the prime targets of the terrorists who attacked the PNS
Mehran airbase on May 22, a top unnamed naval official said
during a background briefing for the Pakistani media.

During the briefing yesterday, naval officials did not
rule out the possibility of "inside support and help" for the
attackers, The News daily reported today.

An ongoing inquiry will pin the responsibility for a
security breach and determine whether the terrorists were
helped by personnel inside the airbase, the officials said.

The briefing was held even as security officials
confirmed the arrest of former naval commando Kamran Ahmed
Malik and two other persons in Lahore for alleged links to the
attack on PNS Mehran.

The banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan had claimed
responsibility for the attack, saying it was carried out to
avenge the killing of Osama bin Laden in a US raid in
Abbottabad on May 2.

The naval officials told the media that the terrorists
entered PNS Mehran after breaching the Pakistan Air Force`s
security perimeter, about 800 metres from the naval airbase.
PNS Mehran is part of the PAF`s Faisal airbase, and
the naval officials suggested that the air force is
responsible for the overall security of the facility.

"The revelation indicates a dangerous gap of
coordination in intelligence and security matters among
different wings of defence services," Dawn newspaper reported.

According to the naval officials, the terrorists
crossed the runway on the PAF side of the base after breaching
security and quickly moved towards PNS Mehran.

They positioned themselves behind bushes and attacked
the P3C Orion parked on the tarmac, destroying two of them.

Militants fired from point blank range at a vehicle
that rescued 11 Chinese engineers and technicians working at
Mehran but swift action by the driver saved them from harm.

The naval officials said several C-130 Hercules
transport aircraft of the PAF were parked near PNS Mehran on
the day of the attack but these were spared by the terrorists.

The planners and executors of the attack appeared to
have been aware of the "crucial value and strategic
importance" of the P3C Orion aircraft, the officials were
quoted as saying.

The fact that the terrorists did not attack PAF
facilities and rushed towards the naval airbase "gave credence
to the view that they had predetermined targets and were
facilitated from within", the Dawn reported.

The attackers were "highly trained, prepared and fully
armed", the officials said, adding they were so well trained
that they remained unharmed while security forces fired
thousands of bullets at them.

"For the sake of your imagination, I would say it was
an intense, swift, well-trained and precise attack worthy of
famous Hollywood movies such as Rambo," one naval official was
quoted as saying by The News.


First Published: Tuesday, May 31, 2011 - 14:28

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