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.
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

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs