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Lone terrorist spent four hours outside base

August 17, 2012

Security personnel guard the main entrance of Pakistan air force base in Kamra – Photo by AP
Security personnel guard the main entrance of Pakistan air force base in Kamra – Photo by AP

KAMRA, Aug 16: The only terrorist who died outside the boundary of the PAF base here on Thursday killed himself to evade arrest after police surrounded the mound where he was holed up in order to attack the sentry post. He attacked with an AK-47 rifle but the two personnel at the post remained safe.

The attacker had crept onto the mound in front of the post about 100 metres from there when his accomplices were busy cutting wires to provide cover, but security personnel alerted before he could select the targets and he had to remain in a natural trench on top of the mound for four hours before he was surrounded by police.

“I think he was wounded either in firing by the sentry post or by police reinforcements,” an official said.

Taking advantage of darkness, the man took position at the mound while a group of attackers used a four-foot ladder to make an opening in the three-foot barbed wires and jumped into the premises.

After the security operation successfully ended in late afternoon, a group of villagers sitting tense under trees in a village graveyard said the spot to cut wires had been carefully selected because it was between two sentry posts and the visibility there was poorest due to dim light.

But the villagers were cautious enough to clarify their own position.

“These were not local people and we have never been involved in any wrongdoing,” Abdul Moid of Kamra Chota village said.

“We have always cooperated with the authorities and if anything wrong is seen we inform police or the FIU.”

Another resident whose house is located not far from the boundary wall said: “We have always considered them (PAF) as brothers and defenders of the nation. Now the terrorists scaled the wall just opposite my house. This is really depressing for us.”

Kamra Chota, located at the rear of the base and near the villages of Suleman Makhan and Kamra Bara, is the least developed among the three and the land there is less fertile.

Though poor, the people of the village were peace-loving, cooperative and decent, local police and intelligence personnel told this reporter.

As the operation continued to subdue the infiltrators, a group of federal security personnel went about in the village to map the area and the mound where the attacker was holed up.

Looking at the marks the security personal said that the attack was not an action in isolation and it was clear that facilitators were present somewhere around.

Most security analysts and experts speaking on the electronic media acknowledged an intelligence failure and also blamed the local authorities, especially Punjab police, for not keeping an eye on adjoining localities.

The area falls in the jurisdiction of the Karma police post under the Attock Saddar police station. The post has a huge area to cover, including a new Sanjwal Road that leads to Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) and has link towards the Karma base.

But, headed by a sub-inspector, the post has only nine personnel and one van to contain crime, handle local disputes and maintain round the clock vigil.

“It is always easy and customary to blame police for everything,” a policeman deputed at the post said.

“Everybody is talking about an intelligence tip about an attack on Kamra, but even the fuel allocation for the Elite Force has been cut and they have reduced patrolling during nights.”

Local people acknowledged that there were supporters of terrorism, including Taliban, in nearby villages.

“We are all against the Taliban and have ideological differences with them,” Mohammad Rizwan of Kamra Chota said. “However, there are issues in Kamra Bara and there are also many outsiders like imams of mosques.”

Since there is only one way to Kamra Chota through Suleman Makhan and Kamra Bara and the attackers were not inside the former village they must have come from outside. One can easily guess that the attackers used a vehicle to go to the village graveyard and moved to positions.

“It is unrealistic to imagine that a group of people would be walking with loads like shoulder-launched rockets, ladder, guns and explosive material on the streets on the Shabeena when almost everybody is awake,” a security official said.

In Kamra Bara, one sees a couple of mosques and seminaries with flags of the banned Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan hoisted on them and locals say there is a breed of new clerics in the village who do not respect traditional norms.