Dawn News

Timeline of events - PNS Mehran Siege

Karachi: The assault by militants on a Naval air base started at approximately 10:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 22, 2011. Witnesses reported they heard a blast and gunfire from inside the PNS Mehran Naval Air Base.

2320: Gunfire was reported to be heard from inside the base. A witness heard a second explosion from the base. “We are trying to check the cause of the blast,” said senior police official Tahir Naveed.

2330: Three loud explosions and gunfire were heard. Senior police official Tahir Naveed said the attackers were inside the Mehran naval aviation base fighting with base personnel. Witnesses said they could hear sounds of gunshots and see smoke rising from inside the base.

0010: An intelligence official said that four people were killed and five wounded. Police reported that the attackers were fighting personnel inside the base. -   “We have four dead and five wounded but the number could rise,” a security official said, who declined to be identified. -   “Three hangers were hit. There is some damage to aircraft or helicopters,” an intelligence official said. -   At this time at least a dozen ambulances were parked outside the base but were not being allowed past the gates.

0045: Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani condemned the attack: -   “Such a cowardly act of terror could not deter the commitment of the government and people of Pakistan to fight terrorism,” Gilani said in statement. -   PTV reported that a P-3 Orion maritime surveillance plane was attacked in the assault.

0200: “They were equipped with sophisticated weapons,” said Navy spokesman Commodore Irfan ul-Haq. “The attackers are still inside and intermittent firing is continuing.” -   Interior Minister Rehman Malik: “We have been able to confine them to one building and an operation is underway either to kill or capture them.”

0320: Navy spokesman Commander Salman Ali said “They were carrying guns, rocket propelled grenades (LPG) and hand grenades. They hit the aircraft with an RPG,” The attackers were said to be up to 15. “They are still inside the base,” he added. Reports said the attackers had made their way in through a sewer line, but it was not confirmed.

0500: Gunmen were still holed up inside the base, approximately six hours after the assault had begun. Five were reported to be killed, while 11 were wounded. The dead included one sailor, three firefighters and an Army ranger. -   Navy spokesman Mohammad Yasir stated “Terrorists are still there and putting up resistance.”

0700: The battle still resumed inside the base as more than 30 troops entered PNS Mehran. Eight blasts had been heard in the space of 30 minutes.

0730: The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility of the attacks. “It was the revenge of martyrdom of Osama bin Laden. It was the proof that we are still united and powerful,” Ehsanullah Ehsan told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location. “They have enough ammunition and food and they can fight and survive for three days.” He said up to 22 militants were assigned to launch the attack.

1000: A senior security official, who declined to be identified, said the militants had taken over a building in the base but had not taken any hostages. He added that there was a chance that some terrorists have suicide belts or jackets. “They have destroyed two P-3C Orion aircraft,” he added. The US had delivered the two maritime patrol aircraft to PNS Mehran only in June last year.

1100: Reports came in that the death toll had risen to seven.

1200: Commander Salman Ali, spokesman for the Pakistan Navy, reported that the death toll had risen to 12, out of which eleven were Navy officials while was a (paramilitary) Ranger.

1300: Naval base siege comes close to an end. Thirteen troops were reported to have been killed and 16 wounded, while two P-3C Orion aircrafts were blown up during the 14-hour siege.

1400: Interior Minister Rehman Malik reports that the operation has been completed. Malik also said that 17 foreigners, 11 of them Chinese maintenance workers, were recovered safely from a Pakistani naval air base after it came under attack and that all of the attackers were killed during the siege.  He added that 15 security personnel had also been killed during the operation.

Interior Minister


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