Attack on Karachi Navy Base: Complete Story

In an ongoing operation at one of Pakistan’s main military bases, security forces are engaged in a battle against militants who stormed the base late Sunday night. At least 6 security officials have been killed in the operation that continues on Monday morning.

More than 10 terrorists late Sunday attacked the PNS Mehran base on Shahrah-e-Faisal Road, Karachi. At least 6 people, including Navy and Rangers personnel died in the attack.

Towering flames arose from inside the PNS Mehran compound throughout the night.

10:20 am

The navy base under attack is 15 miles (24 km) from the Masroor Air Base, Pakistan’s largest and a possible depot for nuclear weapons.

“They (militants) were carrying guns, rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) and hand grenades. They hit the aircraft with an RPG,” Navy spokesman Commander Salman Ali said of the militants.

10:15 am

Talking to Express 24/7, defence analyst Lt Gen (R) Talat Masood said that the militants had sent out a clear message to Pakistani security forces.

“They want to weaken the security insitutions one by one,” he said, adding that the attack was planned with precision.

“They are growing more and more powerful. The state is getting weaker and more helpless.”
10:10 am

Express 24/7 correspondent Shaheryar Mirza reports that sounds of gunfire and explosions have halted, however it is not clear if this signals the end of the operation.

“There is complete silence in the area, but this could be a delaying tactic,” said Mirza.

10:00 am

Express 24/7 correspondent Shaheryar Mirza reports that a man has been arrested from the area due to suspicious activity.

The man was reportedly viewing the ongoing operation through binoculars from a high point.

Twitter update:

sharmeenochinoy TTP soldier tells me our training is better than your military because v are ready 2 die #karachiattacks #Pakistan

madihariaz Don’t want to watch the news, can’t stay away either.

9:50 am

Express 24/7 reporter Ahmed Jung confirms that sophisticated LMG rifles, rocket launchers and Russian hand grenades have been used by the militants in the ongoing battle. The terrorists were dressed in black clothes.

Sources say 6 terrorists have been killed, however their bodies have not been dragged out of the base.

9:40 am

Taliban said that the team of militants they sent into Karachi’s PNS Mehran naval base Sunday night had enough supplies to survive a three-day siege.

“They have enough ammunition and food and they can fight andsurvive for three days,” Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told Reuters.

9:35 am

Two P3C Orion aircrafts have reportedly been destroyed by militants in the attack.

9:25 am

Express 24/7 reporter Ahmed Jung says 26 have explosions have so far taken place at the navy base in the last 12 hours.

Two helicopters are circling the military base in the ongoing operation, and security forces are trying to capture terrorists alive in order to interrogate them.

“Security forces want to know how the militants could enter a base where security is so strict that not even a camera is allowed inside,” says Jung.

9:20 am

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the brazen attack on the base by 15-20 gunmen, saying it was to avenge the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on May 2, AFP reports.

“It was the revenge of martyrdom of Osama bin Laden. It wasthe proof that we are still united and powerful,” Ehsanullah Ehsan told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.

3:15am

Navy spokesman confirms five people have been killed in the attack — four Navy personnel and one Rangers personnel.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik has arrived in Karachi.

2:52am

A few minutes back massive gunfire forced media personnel to lie down on the ground, reports Ahmed Jung. Fire is still erupting from the spot.

The gun battle has lasted 5 hours.

The Shah Faisal colony drain line leads to a small wall, which allows entrance into the base, says Jung. This was the likely route the terrorists took.

2:24am

An official speaking on condition of anonymity says at least 4-5 terrorists have been shot dead, but the aim of the operation is to catch the militants alive.

Fire has erupted again as fire fighters paused efforts due to an on going gun battle.

Heavy gunfire is ongoing at PNS Mehran, confirms Express 24/7 reporter Ahmed Jung.

2:15am

Confirmed reports that Lieutenant Yasir and a fireman, Khalilur Rehman have been killed in the line of duty.

2:05am

The fires on the PAF base have been completely extinguished, confirms Express 24/7 reporter Ahmed Jung.

Shah Faisal number 5 area sewerage line was used to enter PNS Mehran, say sources on-ground.

“They were equipped with sophisticated weapons,” navy spokesman Commodore Irfanul Haq told Reuters.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the militants had attacked from the rear of the base. “We have been able to confine them to one building and an operation is underway either to kill or capture them.”

The Karachi attack evoked memories of an assault on Pakistan’s Army headquarters in the town of Rawalpindi in 2009, and revived concerns that even the most well-guarded installations in the country remain vulnerable.

1:50am

Terrorists used a sewerage line behind the PNS Mehran to enter the base, unconfirmed reports suggest. Rangers have been deployed at the entrance of the line.

Law enforcement agencies from many towns have been called in to surround the entire base to ensure the terrorists do not escape, confirms Express 24/7 reporter Ahmed Jung.

1:38pm

Ahmed Jung reports that oil tankers exploding due to the fire are the likely cause for the recent blasts on the base.

Emergency services are confirming at least one death in the attack.

It is expected the search operation will continue till daylight as the base is kilometres long.

1:24am

Director General PR, Pakistan Navy, Irfanul Haq has confirmed two injuries — one sailor and one officer, both of whom are in critical condition. No foreigner has been killed in the attack, he says. Haq also confirms damage to one P3 Orion aircraft.

Another Navy source say the terrorists stormed the base with rockets, attack the P3 Orion and then snuck in further during the fire caused by the plane. The fire also spread to two other planes in the hangar.

1:15am

A 10th explosion has been reported on the PAF base by Tribune reporter Faraz Khan.

President Asif Ali Zardari has condemned the attack.

Twitter response:

fispahani RT @Ali_Abbas_Zaidi: I repeat: This comes directly from victims. Blood needed in PNS Rahat

OmarWaraich PNS Mehran received two P-3C Orions from the US in June 2010:http://1.usa.gov/mFZ6gK

1:10am

CID police and Army personnel were inside for an hour, however, CID officials are exiting says Ahmed Jung reporting for Express 24/7.

As yet, only fire brigades have been let inside.

The identities of the alleged four dead in the attack have not been confirmed.

12:58am

Tribune reporter Faraz Khan reports another blast in the PAF compound.

Pakistan Navy Spokesman confirms there are no casualties and only two people have been injured so far. He has confirmed that the P3 Orion aircraft was attacked.

Navy depot and a godown was attacked as well, say initial reports.

Firing is continuing inside the PAF base.

The fire in the compound has died down substantially.

DG PR Navy Irfanul Haq also confirms two injuries in the attack.

Twitter response:

OmarWaraich The fire’s wild. Thick plumes of black smoke stretching across the Karachi sky

mosharrafzaidi Not really too interested in empathy from abroad. I am interested in answers from within Pakistan.

SWarisShah People should stop discouraging our army and intelligence and start praying.. they are risking their life for us.

12:50am

Fire has spread to three locations confirms Ahmed Jung reporting for Express 24/7. Fire is still visible where the terrorists first attacked.

Special forces including Army personnel and CID police have arrived to fight the terrorists inside the base.

Earlier reports that Americans were present when terrorists targeted P3C Orion plane have been refuted by a US Embassy spokesman.

12:49am

Terrorists entered from the back of the base, say sources. They had information regarding what aircrafts were inside. The attack was well planned.

Twitter response:

husainhaqqani R prayers & support for victims of today’s tragedy at PNS Mehran. R resolve 2 defeat terrorists must endure

mirza9 If there was no inside help on getting militants inside, they had to be given intel on the plane,location and maintenance schedule. #karachi

cyalm I’d rather have the delusional Rapture folks than the delusional folks here who can’t see the enemy within

12:28am

Terrorists used rockets in the attack confirm reports.

Firing is continuing inside the base sporadically, says Tribune reporter Faraz Khan. However, he says there has been no new blasts as reported elsewhere in the media.

Army commandos are on the spot.

Twitter response:

AdilNajam Situation ongoing. Coordinated attacks already being called “Mumbai-style” some suspect there may be hostages…

needroos Respect to all security personnel, military, rangers, police, ambulance and firefighters facing the ongoing #Karachi attack

12:18am

Sources say that the initial target of the terrorists was the P3C Orion plane. The plane has reportedly been destroyed.

“This plane acts as the eyes and ears of the Pakistan Navy” says security analyst, Ikram Sehgal. The plane functions as a form of radar.

AFP updates — “It’s a terrorist attack. More than 10 terrorists are inside. They have attacked a navy air station located in a Pakistan Air Force base,” said provincial home ministry official Sharfuddin Memon.

“One of the four aircraft inside the premises has been damaged,” he added.

12:09am

American teams were working on the plane which came under attack.

P3C Orion is the name of the plane. It is a four-engine turboprop anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft.

Twitter response:

beenasarwar @thekarachikid Easy to blame govt, when it’s the security establishment that needs to change paradigm, & strategy.

sharmeenochinoy Just spoke 2 ppl on sharae Faisal still blocked- ppl being advised to go thru alternate routes #karachiattacks

Razarumi Vulnerabilities of Pakistani security agencies being exploited by terrorists. What a shame! #Pakistan v@ShabbirShah

12:05am

Ahmed Jung reporting for Express 24/7 a hunt for terrorists is on going inside the base. Fire fighters have managed to get the fire under control.

A specific plane inside the base may have been a target.

11:55pm

At least four members of the PAF have been reportedly killed in the attack, says Ahmed Jung from Express 24/7. The Interior Ministry reported this casualty figure to the Chief Minister house.

However, no emergency vehicles have gone into the base.

Emergency has been announced in all Karachi hospitals.

11:50pm

CCTV cameras are monitoring the situation inside — it is confirmed that terrorists are inside and they have targeted PNS Mehran and PNS Faisal, says Faraz Khan reporting for The Express Tribune.

Four to five spots have been targeted within.

It is also possible a hangar and a navy depot has been targeted.

ISPR’s Major General Athar Abbas has confirmed there is an attack ongoing inside.

For previous attacks on Pakistan Navy within Karachi click here and here.

Twitter response:

mosharrafzaidi RT @javeednusrat: dependable source insists attack started w rocket fires & not bombs. has all the appearances of a well-drilled out attack.

beenasarwar #CPLC sources @Rezhasan: Samaa News channel: 4 security personnel killed in attack on airbase

faizanlakhani @tammyhaq third attack on Pakistan Navy in one month

11:45pm

Media and emergency services have not been allowed to enter the base so far. Only fire brigades have been let in.

Earlier this month in Karachi, the Navy had come under attack, with multiple bombs targeting buses.

11: 34pm

Rangers, wing commander’s vehicle and up to five other cars have have gone inside the burning base.

The attack is specifically targetting PNS Mehran, confirms Faraz Khan reporting for Tribune.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik has confirmed that this is a terrorist attack.

Twitter response:

thekarachikid There’s a 9/11, 26/11 and 7/7. Then there’s everyday in Pakistan.

ammaryasir 5 injured includes one foreigner, probably a Chinese.

faizanlakhani complete blackout in base Faisal and Mehran

11:30pm

Pakistan Navy is trying to put out the fire inside the base. Interior Minister Rehman Malik has confirmed that this is a terrorist attack.

11:26pm

Sporadic fire is continuing at the PAF base says Ahmed Jung reporting for Express 24/7.

The first fire rescue team has reached the spot.

Twitter response:

sharmeenochinoy This naval aviation base v sensitive area- how can terrorists enter this area- serious lapse of security #karachi

faisalkapadia People of #karachi we are under attack we must “unite” and not panic! Please stay calm we are togather in this. #mehran

AtikaRehman 4 dead, others injured according to Dunya TV #Karachi PAF explosion

11:20pm

Terrorists entered the base and there is an encounter on going report eye witnesses in the area say.

The Express Tribune correspondent Faraz Khan reports that hand grenades are likely being used according to the sounds from within the base.

There are reports of upto 6-12 terrorists inside the compound. Media standing about 2 kilometres from the blast site.

11:15pm

Reports are coming in that this is a coordinated attack. Security forces are allowing no one inside or out of the base.

Army housing and the PAF museum are also located within the compound.

11:12pm

Four major explosions have been heard so far, along with gunfire. It is as yet unclear whether there is a gun battle going on inside the air base.

Ahmed Jung reporting for Express 24/7 says Rangers, and police officials are on the spot at the PAF base.

11:10pm

According to initial reports a hand grenade was used in the attack and an attacker has been killed.

The force of the blast has shattered  surrounding buildings.

Heavy gunfire was also reported after the explosion. An eyewitness said that the blast took place near the gate of Faisal Base.

Police, rangers and rescue had reached the site of the blast.

The Express Tribune

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