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- Friday, May 27, 2011 - From Print Edition


KARACHI: Pakistani security officials said on Thursday they doubted a 17-hour Taliban siege on a strategic naval air base could have been possible without some kind of inside help.


On Sunday, heavily armed militants stormed the naval base in Karachi, destroying two US-made surveillance planes and killing 10 personnel before officials announced the siege was over 17 hours later.


“The investigation team will question all those who were present at the time of the attack,” a security official told AFP on condition of anonymity. “The way the militants attacked means they had maps and were aware of all the directions inside the base,” the official added.


“We suspect that someone inside the base helped them. We are collecting data about all the staff and will also examine their phone data.” The navy on Wednesday removed the commander of the base, insisting it was a pre-planned transfer, but the military is under increasing domestic pressure to be held accountable over security lapses.


“We have recovered some technical gadgets which prove that they were very well trained, they had night vision goggles and were using wireless devices to communicate,” another official told AFP.


The siege has forced authorities to consider relocating the navy’s main air base in Karachi away from its current populated area, near the international airport, and fanned debate about the safety of the country’s nuclear weapons.