An attack of this magnitude on a major base in a major city is the Pakistani Taliban’s way of sending a message to Islamabad: “Knock, knock.”
Never mind bin Laden; Pakistan has something altogether new to be embarrassed about. Meanwhile, the attack may “revive” concerns about Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal for some (as the country works furiously to expand a stockpile already larger than Britain’s), but for many of us, they never went away in the first place. An update on this story. “Pakistan: Troops ‘end attack’ on Karachi naval air base,” from BBC News, May 23:
Pakistani troops have ended a siege by militants who attacked a naval base in the city of Karachi, navy sources say.
The troops are now said to be “mopping up” after the raid, which has left 10 soldiers and at least three attackers dead.
Reports that hostages including some foreigners were taken were denied. Some militants may still be in the compound.
The Pakistan Taliban says the raid was to avenge Osama Bin Laden’s killing by US special forces on 2 May.
“It was the revenge of martyrdom of Osama Bin Laden. It was the proof that we are still united and powerful,” Ehsanullah Ehsan told Reuters news agency.
They have carried out several attacks since then.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik said 10 soldiers had died and 15 were wounded in the attack.
Two attackers were also killed and a third blew himself up. An unexploded suicide jacket and live grenades were found, the minister added.
There were 17 foreigners at the site, including 11 Chinese aviation trainers, but all are safe, Mr Malik said.
The attack is similiar to a raid in October 2009 in which Taliban militants laid siege to the army headquarters in the garrison town of Rawalpindi, killing dozens.
The BBC’s Aleem Maqbool in Islamabad says the Karachi incident will revive fears about the security of Pakistan’s nuclear installations.
On Sunday evening at 2230 (1730 GMT), militants stormed three hangars housing aircraft at the Mehran naval aviation base, according to officials.
Their first targets were aircraft parked on the tarmac and equipment in nearby hangers, says the BBC’s Syed Shoaib Hasan at the scene.
Eyewitnesses say the militants used rocket-propelled grenades to damage and destroy several warplanes. These included the Pakistan navy’s premier anti-submarine and marine surveillance aircraft – the US-made P-3C Orion.
At least two of these multi-million dollar planes were set ablaze.
The Taliban can’t shoot these aircraft down, so they have to set them on fire on the ground.
The gunmen then opened indiscriminate fire, killing several naval personnel as they carried their raid into the heart of the base….