Militants Attack Karachi Military Base, 4 Killed
VOA News May 22, 2011
At least four people have been killed in an intense battle inside a military base in the Pakistani city of Karachi.
Police say 15 to 20 militants attacked the Mehran naval aviation station late Sunday, armed with guns and grenades. A raging fire and a cloud of smoke could be seen over the base soon after the attack began, and witnesses nearby heard gunfire and several explosions coming from inside.
A spokesman for the Pakistani navy said the fight continued for hours after it began. He said the dead include at least two naval staff members. At least nine other people have been injured in the fighting.
Another spokesman said at least one maritime surveillance airplane had been destroyed. The plane had recently been given to Pakistan by the United States.
It is notable that a large group of well-armed militants were able to infiltrate a heavily-guarded military installation far away from the Taliban-stronghold in Pakistan's northwest tribal region. It has been reported the militants attacked from three sides of the base.
No one has yet claimed responsibility, but suspicion is falling on Taliban militants who have pledged to avenge the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. special forces in Pakistan earlier this month.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned the attack Sunday, calling it a "cowardly act of terror," and said it would not deter Pakistan's government or its people from fighting terrorism.
Authorities and witnesses say scores of commandos were sent into the base to battle the attackers.
Karachi is Pakistan's economic hub and its largest city, with roughly 16 million people. It has been plagued by criminal, sectarian and militant violence.
Pakistan has seen a surge in militant violence this month since U.S. special forces killed Osama bin Laden on May 2 in a compound not far from the capital, Islamabad.
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