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Pakistan Retakes Naval Base After Militant Attack

Pakistani Interior Minister Rehman Malik briefs the media in Karachi, Pakistan, May 23, 2011

Pakistani commandos have regained control of a naval base after more than 17 hours of fighting with Taliban gunmen, in an attack that raised questions about Pakistan's ability to defend itself from militants.

Pakistan's Interior Minister Rehman Malik said Monday that 10 security personnel were killed and 14 others were wounded in the brazen attack on the base in the southern port city of Karachi.

Malik said four to six heavily armed militants dressed in black used ladders to climb into the base late Sunday, setting off intense gunbattles and several explosions. Malik said four attackers were killed but two may have escaped.

A Taliban spokesman said the attack was launched to avenge the death of al-Qaida leader Osama bin Laden, who was killed by U.S. special forces in a raid on May 2 in Pakistan.

Interior Minister Malik said six Americans and 11 Chinese contractors were on the base at the time of the attack and had been evacuated safely.

Pakistani officials say two maritime surveillance airplanes were destroyed. The planes were recently given to Pakistan by the United States.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned the attack as "cowardly" and said it would not deter Pakistan's government or its people from fighting terrorism.

The United States and Britain also condemned the attack, which officials said underscored the threat Pakistan faces from violent extremists.

Elsewhere, Pakistani officials say a U.S. drone strike killed at least seven suspected militants in the militant stronghold of North Waziristan, along the Afghan border.