Lauds security forces for fighting off attacks on two Quetta airbases, killing 12 militants | Says attempts of desperate terrorists to damage country would fail
ISLAMABAD – Army Chief Gen Raheel Sharif on Friday said that after operation Zarb-e-Azb, terrorist are on the run and making desperate attempts to cause damage to Pakistan, but they will not find any space to hide in the country.
Taliban armed with automatic weapons, grenades and wearing suicide vests tried to storm the Pakistan Air Force’s Samungli airbase and Khalid military airbase, both in, late on Thursday. But security forces responded timely and effectively. They engaged the attackers in the outer boundaries and killed 12 militants in an operation that continued until Friday morning.
A statement released by Inter Services Public Relations said that Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Raheel Sharif appreciated the courage of Security Forces, who successfully foiled terrorist bid to attack PAF and army aviation bases in Quetta.
In his appreciation, army chief said that terrorist are making desperate attempts to cause damage to the country but their attempts would not bear fruit and they will not be allowed any space to hide. General Raheel said that with the backing of the entire nation, they will eliminate the scourge of terrorism from the soil forever. The COAS said that security forces should continue to remain vigilant and respond promptly to defeat nefarious designs of the terrorists.
A statement released by ISPR said that 11 of the militants who launched attacks on air bases in Quetta were killed while three other suspects had been arrested. The terrorist attempts to enter the bases were successfully foiled by prompt action by an integrated security force of Army, PAF, FC and Police.
Five terrorists were killed outside PAF Base Smungli and 3 were apprehended, while six terrorists were killed outside Khalid Army Aviation Base Quetta, according to ISPR statement, which also said that all the assets remained safe.
According to the sources, the modus operandi of terrorist was the same as that of attacks on Karachi airport, Mehran Airbase and Peshawar airport. The gunfight started at 8pm on Thursday and the areas were cleared by 7am on Friday. Two different factions of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attacks and said they were a response to the military’s ongoing assault on militant hideouts in North Waziristan tribal area.
According to the sources at least 11 security personnel got injured but they all were out of danger. The injured include seven army soldiers, two police personnel, an ATF solider and an FC official. Rocket launchers, rocket propelled grenades, automatic weapons, hand grenades and suicide vests were recovered in the operation.
Agencies add: Lt-Gen Naseer Janjua, the top army commander in the region, told reporters 12 attackers were killed. Reporters were shown nine corpses and pieces of three bodies of attackers along with the weapons and explosives recovered during the search operation after the attackers were killed or blew themselves up.
Ahmed said the attackers, wearing suicide vests, arrived in a Suzuki pickup at the rear of the perimeter of Samungli base adjacent to houses and markets and made a hole in the wall. “When security forces engaged the attackers and fired bullets, they blew themselves up,” he said. Ahmed said all the attackers appeared to be of Central Asian or Uzbek origin.
A senior military official said rockets were fired at Samungli airbase, with two landing inside the perimeter fence. He said no damage was caused. Quetta city’s police chief Abdul Razzaq Cheema said that militants first launched an attack on Samungli airbase before targeting Khalid military airbase around an hour later. Police had defused four bombs near the outer wall of Khalid airbase, he said.
It was the third violent episode at Pakistani air facilities in recent months, raising questions about their security. The Taliban have threatened a bloody response to the military offensive against in North Waziristan but since its launch in June there have been no major TTP attacks.
Pakistan launched the offensive shortly after a brazen assault on Karachi airport that left dozens dead. Later that month, gunmen opened fire at a plane landing at Peshawar airport, killing a passenger and wounding two crew members. More than 500 militants and 29 soldiers have been killed in the North Waziristan offensive so far, according to the military, though the death toll for insurgents cannot be independently confirmed.
Impoverished Balochistan province is wracked by an insurgency waged by ethnic Baloch tribes seeking greater autonomy from the federal government and a greater share of profits from the region’s wealth of oil and gas resources. The region has also been hit by attacks blamed on Pakistani Taliban militants and Quetta is also a stronghold for the Afghan Taliban, whose leadership reportedly fled there after their government was toppled by US-backed Afghan forces in late 2001. More recently, the attention of Pakistani security agencies has been focused on two large anti-government protests that are due to reach the capital on Friday. Opposition politician Imran Khan and cleric Tahirul Qadri have said they want to force the government to step down and will camp out in the streets of the capital until it does so.