ISLAMABAD: The terrorist outfit having bases in Afghanistan and carried out a terror attack on Rashid Minhas Shaheed Airbase Kamra on the most auspicious evening of Ramazan last, had its high-level meeting in southern Afghan city Kandahar on the following day to analyse foiling of its attack, and evolved a future strategy for further attacks. The meeting took place in a strong house adjacent to the Kandhar airbase, writes Muhammad Saleh Zaafir.
Nine fully trained terrorists were killed in the Kamra attack and one security guard, who successfully blocked the terrorists at the outer periphery of the base in five hours battle, lost his life in the combat.
The mentors of the terrorist outfit belonging to a neighbouring country were also present in the Kandahar ‘deliberations’ where they devised a future strategy for further attacks.
Well-placed defence sources told The News that the terrorists involved in the Kamra attack were imparted training in Kandahar and they were provided weapons inside Pakistan. Adnan Rashid, a known terrorist, was the mastermind of the attack. He was a condemned prisoner in Bannu jail but escaped along with four hundred other prison inmates after breaking the jail in April last. He was a former employee of PAF and had complete inkling about the base, the sources said.
The base has been used for training and engineering but as the attack was thwarted, media belonging to a neighbouring country harped on the tune that the base had nuclear arsenal without ascertaining that no country in the world keeps its nuclear assets on or even near the airbases.
The base was free of nuclear weapons. A hangar was hit by rocket/rockets that was holding a SAAB-2000 Early Warning and Control System (AWACS) plane that is used for reconnaissance missions in the combat areas. The plane was partly damaged but the precious equipment fitted in it remained safe.
Eight militants were killed inside the base territory while the body of the ninth was found outside the base where he blew himself up, the sources said.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility of the attack, saying it was done to avenge the death of TTP leader Baitullah Mehsud, who was killed in a US drone strike in South Waziristan back in 2009. The TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told the media the attack on the base was an act of revenge for the death of al-Qaeda chief Osama bin Laden. “The attack was carried out by four suicide bombers,” he said contesting the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) statement that nine militants took part in the assault.
The PAF Minhas had also come under attacks in the past. In 2009, a suicide bomber riding a bicycle blew himself up on a road leading to the base, killing seven people. In 2008, three rockets were fired at an area near the base, but no one was hurt.
In 2007, a suicide car bomber injured five children onboard a PAF bus carrying them to school that was located near the Minhas Base. The sources revealed that the air-intelligence units have the documentary evidence of the Kandhar meeting and all relevant details what transpired in it.
The failed attack of Kamra has forced the militants to change their strategy as they have created a wing to attack and damage the PAF facilities.