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14 killed in Pak terror attack
KARACHI, MAY 23 (IANS):
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Published on 24 May. 2011 12:24 AM IST
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A 15-hour terror siege of a key military base in this Pakistan port city finally ended Monday afternoon with 14 people, including four terrorists, being killed in the fierce exchange of gunfire and the more than 20 blasts that rocked the sprawling complex.
The 17 foreigners working at the PNS Mehran naval base were safe, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said after curtains came down on the brazen terror strike, which comes within three weeks of Al Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden being gunned down by US commandos in Abbottabad city on May 2. The Taliban had vowed retaliation.
Malik said the terror attack had been put down “successfully” and attackers had killed 10 security personnel and firemen. A naval and an air force base are part of the heavily fortified complex.
He said bodies of three terrorists had been recovered. The head of another terrorist, presumed to be a suicide bomber, was found. Fifteen people were injured in the mayhem that began at 10.30 p.m. Sunday.
Earlier reports had said 12 people had been killed.
Calling it a “pre-planned” operation at one of Pakistan’s biggest military bases, Malik said a high alert had been issued across the country after fears of more attacks from Islamists angered by Osama bin Laden’s killing. The minister said the 11 Chinese and six Americans were taken to safety by alert security personnel.
“Nobody has been taken hostage,” he said.
Narrating the sequence of events, the minister said the attackers sneaked into the heavily guarded complex using two ladders and cutting the barbed wire fencing on the high compound walls. The attackers targeted P-3C Orion aircraft, two of which were destroyed. But acting quickly, Pakistan Rangers towed away some other Orion aircraft.
Over 20 explosions shook the fortified facility soon after the terrorists had stormed in Sunday night. Four equally powerful blasts were also heard at the nearby air force base. Television footage showed thick smoke billowing from the area.
Fierce gunfights raged through the night as reinforcements of security forces rushed to the base. The Pakistani Taliban, which is opposed to Islamabad’s pro-US policies, reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack, Xinhua said.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned the attack.
India concerned about safety of Pak nukes
In the wake of the audacious terror attack on a naval base in Karachi, India Monday voiced apprehensions about the safety of nuclear installations in the neighbouring country and pointed to the deepening divide there over the Afghan war.
“We are concerned with the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear installations,” senior officials, travelling with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to Ethiopia, said here.
“They seem to have embarked on a huge nuclear programme. They are building research reactors at Khusab,” the officials said when asked about recent reports about Pakistan’s ambitious plans to upgrade its nuclear weapons. According to western estimates, Pakistan is believed to have about 100 nuclear warheads.

 
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