Heavily-armed terrorists wearing suicide vests today brazenly stormed a key Pakistan Air Force base believed to house nuclear weapons, setting off a fierce gun battle with the security forces that left seven attackers and one soldier dead and parts of the complex in flames.
Terrorists, some of whom were wearing military uniforms, infiltrated into the Kamra airbase, just 40 km from the capital, under cover of darkness at about 2 am, breaching three barriers as they attempted to target fighters, including F-16 and Chinese made JF-17 aircraft.
The audacious attack came just a day after US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta expressed fears over the danger of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons falling into the terrorists’ hands.
The base in the Attock district of Punjab, according to a New York Times report, is believed to be one of the locations where Pakistan’s nuclear stockpiles, estimated to include at least 100 warheads, is stored.
The attackers armed with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons fought their way into one of Pakistan’s largest air bases and in the first assault propelled grenades into the base damaging one aircraft, TV channels said.
They engaged the security forces for over eight hours until dawn and according to a PAF spokesman seven terrorists were gunned down by commandos and one security personnel was also killed.
The spokesman said base commander Air Commodore Muhammad Azam, who led the operations, was hit by a bullet but is “safe and stable”. Several others were also injured.
The military’s media arm told presspersons that the situation at the Kamra airbase was under control and troops were conducting a search operation to ascertain if any more terrorists were inside the complex.
The spokesman said one aircraft was damaged when it was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade fired by the attackers. He did not give details of the extent of the damage.