Militants attack Pak Air Force base believed to house nukes
Islamabad: A group of terrorists today stormed a key Pakistan Air Force base in Punjab province that is believed to house nuclear weapons, triggering an intense gun battle with securityforces that lasted over three hours.
The terrorists, some of whom were reportedly wearing military uniforms, sneaked into Kamra airbase at about 2 am despite a state of high alert at the facility.
About 10 attackers breached at least three barriers and tried to target Saab-2000 surveillance aircraft, TV news channels quoted their sources as saying. At least five to six attackers were gunned down by commandoes by 5 am, TV news channels reported. Explosives were attached to the body of one attacker, the channels reported.
The attackers could have had help from elements within the airbase, Geo News channel quoted its sources as saying. The terrorists reportedly entered the airbase from Pind Suleman Makhan, a village adjoining the PAF facility.
The PAF sought help from the army and troops from an elite anti-terrorism commando unit in the garrison city of Rawalpindi were dispatched to Kamra.
Several Western media reports in the past have said that nuclear weapons are based at the Kamra complex, which is home to an airbase and the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex that assembles JF-17 combat jets and drones.
Witnesses told the media they had heard intense firing and several explosions from within the airbase. A photo posted on micro-blogging site Twitter by a resident of Kamra showed flames and black smoke rising into the sky within the airbase.
Statements issued by the PAF confirmed the attack and said troops had surrounded the terrorists and engaged them.
"A group of terrorists has attacked a portion of PAF base Minhas. The PAF security personnel have cordoned off the area and have encircled the terrorists," said one statement.
"Intense fire is being exchanged between the security personnel and the terrorists," the PAF said.
The terrorists had been engaged by two teams of the elite Special Services Group, it said.
Media reports said some security personnel were injured in the attack though there was no official word on casualties.
This was the latest in a string of brazen attacks on Pakistani military installations.
In the past, militants linked to the Pakistani Taliban have attacked the army`s General Headquarters in Rawalpindi and a key naval airbase in the port city of Karachi.