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Gunbattle on as terrorists take hostages at Pak naval facility

By The Assam Tribune

KARACHI, May 23 (IANS): Fierce gunfights raged overnight as heavily-armed terrorists stormed a key military facility here, destroyed two surveillance aircraft and left five personnel dead. The guerrillas, who were still inside Monday morning, have also reportedly taken an unknown number of hostages.

The rebels entered PNS Mehran, which is the country's first naval air station, and launched a massive attack Sunday night at about 10.30 p.m.

Xinhua reported that the terrorist have retreated into a building within the base and are holding an unknown number of hostages as human shield to fight back the navy commandos, rangers and security personnel. Over 3,000 armed forces personnel have reportedly been dispatched to the site.

Fifteen bomb explosions have taken place at the heavily-guarded naval facility since the attack began Sunday night.

The brazen attack comes within three weeks of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden being gunned down May 2 in Abbottabad by US commandos. The Taliban had vowed retaliation.

Geo News quoted a naval spokesman as saying that two P-3C Orion aircraft had been completely destroyed in the attack. Five personnel, including four navy and one rangers, have been killed while nine have been injured.

Hours later, Pakistani commandos began a counter-strike that was supported by helicopters flying over the naval facility.

There were conflicting reports of the number of terrorists involved in the attack.

At least 10 to 15 terrorists armed with automatic weapons, rocket launchers and handgrenades were involved, reported Xinhua citing local media reports. The number of terrorists was put at 20 to 25 by another media report.

Four powerful blasts were also heard near the PAF Base Faisal. Television footage showed thick smoke billowing from the area.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik confirmed the base was under terrorist attack.

Earlier news reports said four foreigners were killed in the attack. They were believed to be US engineers working at the air force base. But a spokesperson from the US consulate in Karachi denied the report, saying no American nationals were killed.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned the attack and ordered Interior Minister Rehman Malik to watch over the situation.

The Pakistani Taliban reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack, Xinhua said.

On May 13, Pakistani Taliban suicide bombers blew themselves up near a paramilitary training centre in Charsadda in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, killing over 80 newly-trained personnel.

Last week, a Saudi consulate official was gunned down in this port city.

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Gunbattle on as terrorists take hostages at Pak naval facility

KARACHI, May 23 (IANS): Fierce gunfights raged overnight as heavily-armed terrorists stormed a key military facility here, destroyed two surveillance aircraft and left five personnel dead. The guerrillas, who were still inside Monday morning, have also reportedly taken an unknown number of hostages.

The rebels entered PNS Mehran, which is the country's first naval air station, and launched a massive attack Sunday night at about 10.30 p.m.

Xinhua reported that the terrorist have retreated into a building within the base and are holding an unknown number of hostages as human shield to fight back the navy commandos, rangers and security personnel. Over 3,000 armed forces personnel have reportedly been dispatched to the site.

Fifteen bomb explosions have taken place at the heavily-guarded naval facility since the attack began Sunday night.

The brazen attack comes within three weeks of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden being gunned down May 2 in Abbottabad by US commandos. The Taliban had vowed retaliation.

Geo News quoted a naval spokesman as saying that two P-3C Orion aircraft had been completely destroyed in the attack. Five personnel, including four navy and one rangers, have been killed while nine have been injured.

Hours later, Pakistani commandos began a counter-strike that was supported by helicopters flying over the naval facility.

There were conflicting reports of the number of terrorists involved in the attack.

At least 10 to 15 terrorists armed with automatic weapons, rocket launchers and handgrenades were involved, reported Xinhua citing local media reports. The number of terrorists was put at 20 to 25 by another media report.

Four powerful blasts were also heard near the PAF Base Faisal. Television footage showed thick smoke billowing from the area.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik confirmed the base was under terrorist attack.

Earlier news reports said four foreigners were killed in the attack. They were believed to be US engineers working at the air force base. But a spokesperson from the US consulate in Karachi denied the report, saying no American nationals were killed.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned the attack and ordered Interior Minister Rehman Malik to watch over the situation.

The Pakistani Taliban reportedly claimed responsibility for the attack, Xinhua said.

On May 13, Pakistani Taliban suicide bombers blew themselves up near a paramilitary training centre in Charsadda in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, killing over 80 newly-trained personnel.

Last week, a Saudi consulate official was gunned down in this port city.