Karachi, May 24 : The militants who had launched a most audacious attack on the Pakistan Navy`s aviation base, PNS Mehran, on Sunday night, had come prepared for a long haul as security officials found several packets of dates, among other things, on their bodies, it emerged on Monday, reports Dawn.
As many as 10 security officials were killed and 15 others wounded in the terrorist onslaught that lasted for about 16 hours. Two P-3C Orion aircraft were blown up in the terror attack besides some structural damage at the airbase, officials said.
The recovery of dates suggests that the militants had come prepared for a sustained showdown. They might have planned to take hostages as well, as Interior Minister Rehman Malik disclosed to the media on Monday that there were 11 Chinese and six Americans present at the airbase when it was struck by the terrorists.
The interior minister insisted that no hostage-taking took place at the base during the 16-hour engagement with the militants.
During the GHQ attack on Oct 10, 2009 and the Nov 29, 2008 Mumbai attacks the militants carried backpacks which contained mineral water bottles, energy biscuits, etc.
However, the militants involved in the PNS Mehran attack seemed content with packets of dates to meet their energy needs, a security official remarked.
As pointed out by Chief of the Naval Staff Admiral Noman Bashir on Monday, the militants had entered the base from its eastern side bordering a storm-water drain.
Contrary to the initial estimate of 10 to 15 militants by the authorities, the evidence of only four militants was established by the security officials on Monday evening found at different spots on the base. Officials claimed that two militants had escaped, suggesting that there were only six terrorists.
The bodies of two of the militants were intact. The other two bodies, recovered from the debris of a guard room located in one of the hangers at the PNS Mehran base, were mutilated.
“It seems that they had blown themselves up in the hanger`s guard room, where a skull and four legs were found in the rubble,” said a senior law-enforcement official who didn`t want to be named.
Security officials found four AK-47 rifles, two rocket launchers and 14 hand grenades with the remains of the militants of whom two had been killed in the firing carried out by security forces.
Moreover, night-vision goggles and suicide and bullet-proof vests were also found in the possession of the militants, besides several packets containing dates, officials said. Dawn
However, officials suspected, they did not carry in any arms and ammunition. And the guns and ammunition they might have grabbed from one of the barracks of which they might have prior knowledge. They were also heard using military jargon, an official told .
The militants were wearing dark blue T-shirts, loose trousers and sneakers. They appeared to be hailing from the FATA region.
Security officials who assessed the situation at the base on Monday were baffled as to how two militants escaped from the base — if indeed there were six militants who took part in the offensive.
Supposedly soon after the attack, security forces had cordoned off the perimeter of the base. If the siege was in place, how could the two suspects escape from the base, wondered some security officials.
At the same time they questioned how only four militants could engage the large number of security forces for 16 hours at the base.
Interior Minister Rehman Malik told the media on Monday that six militants had launched the attack — four were killed and two of them had managed to escape.
Surely, the four militants had some backup support network as they must have been dropped off by their accomplices at the eastern side of the base from where they sneaked into the base through the open drain, security officials observed.
After the operation against the militants ended on Monday evening, the four bodies were taken to the Civil Hospital Karachi for a postmortem examination.
Initially, the bodies were shifted to the Jinnah Postgraduate Medical Centre, but after a power outage at the mortuary there, the bodies were taken to the CHK. Dawn
Police Surgeon Dr Hamid Pariyar told that four bodies — two intact and two in mutilated form — were brought to the hospital for an autopsy.
The ages of the dead ranged from 18 to 20. The two bodies which were intact bore gunshot wounds while the mutilated parts were blown up in blasts, Dr Pariyar said.
The following are the names of the 10 persons killed in the terrorist attack: Lieutenant Yasir Abbas of the Pakistan Navy, Khalilur Rahman, sailor; Javed Ahmed, fireman; Javed Iqbal, fireman; Rashid, sailor; Amjad, sailor; Asghar, sailor; Mohammad Salim, sailor; Akhtar, Rangers, and Khalil Ahmad, Rangers.