News / Asia

Militants Launch Deadly Assault on Pakistani Airbase

Paramilitary soldiers guard main entrance of air force base in Kamra, Punjab province, August 16, 2012.
Paramilitary soldiers guard main entrance of air force base in Kamra, Punjab province, August 16, 2012.
TEXT SIZE - +
Ayaz Gul
ISLAMABAD — Authorities in Pakistan say they have killed all of the heavily-armed militants who assaulted a major air base early Thursday.  Officials have also denied claims that the facility houses some of the country’s nuclear weapons.
 
According to authorities, a group of up to nine militants armed with weapons and rocket-propelled grenades was involved in the brazen assault on one of Pakistan’s key air force installations in the garrison town of Kamara, 75 kilometers northwest of the Pakistani capital.
 
Defense Minister Naveed Qamar told reporters the militants had explosives strapped to their bodies but were intercepted and killed by security forces in a firefight that lasted for several hours.
 
The defense minister claimed "the assault was aimed at destroying the entire facility to weaken Pakistan’s defense capabilities but security forces thwarted the attempt with minimum losses". He says the fighting left one soldier dead and slightly wounded the base commander, who was leading the security operation.

Kamra, PakistanKamra, Pakistan
x
Kamra, Pakistan
Kamra, Pakistan
Authorities have confirmed that one of the more than 30 aircraft present on the facility at the time of attack was also damaged.

Pakistani officials denied reports the facility possessed nuclear weapons, saying concerns about the safety of the nuclear arsenal are misplaced. Moazam Ahmed Khan is the foreign ministry spokesman.
 
“Nobody should really worry about the security and safety of our [nuclear] assets. They are in safe hands. All measures have been taken and they are totally safe and sound,” he said.
 
Taliban responsible

The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for the early morning assault on the air force base.
 
Last year, several militants assaulted a naval base in the port city of Karachi, killing 10 soldiers and destroying two maritime surveillance aircraft. And a 2009 attack on the powerful military’s headquarters had killed 14 troops including senior officers.
 
Thursday’s attack follows reports that Pakistani military officials may be planning an offensive against Taliban militants in the North Waziristan tribal agency.
 
Campaign of violence

In recent months Pakistani authorities have claimed that successive military offensives have significantly crippled the extremist groups waging a violent campaign against the Pakistani government.  
 
Chairman of the Senate’s Defense Committee Mushahid Hussain, whose party is a partner in the governing coalition in Pakistan, said that repeated high-profile terrorist attacks on security institutions undermine that claim, pointing to a failure of intelligence coordination.
 
“It seems that terrorist organizations and terrorist groups, which are apparently well organized and highly motivated, are able to attack with impunity at a time and target of their own choosing,” said Hussain.
 
The fleet at the Minhas Airbase, which came under attack on Thursday, also includes JF-17 Thunder aircraft, jointly produced with China. Sources say that Chinese maintenance experts are usually present at the facility.
 
Also Thursday, a group of suspected Sunni Muslim militants attacked three passenger buses in the northern mountainous Mansehra region, killing at least 22 people.  Authorities say that the victims were minority Shi'ite Muslims.

You May Like

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid