Taliban assault team attacks Pakistani Navy base


PN-P3C-Karachi.jpg

One of two P-3C Orion maritime aircraft destroyed by the Taliban during the assault on Pakistani Naval Station Mehran. Associated Press photo.

The Pakistani Taliban attacked a naval airbase in the city of Karachi on Sunday, sparking an hours-long battle in which several people were killed and at least two naval aircraft were destroyed. As of Monday, Pakistani officials have declared the siege is over and its forces are "mopping up."

A large terrorist assault team, thought to be between 15 to 20 men strong, stormed Pakistani Naval Station Mehran Sunday night in a coordinated, complex attack. A Taliban spokesman claimed that 22 fighters who have enough provisions for three days have executed the assault. But Pakistani officials claimed just five or six fighters launched the attack, and two are thought to have escaped.

The heavily armed gunmen penetrated security at the base from three gates and fanned out, attacking aircraft hangars and military personnel. At least two Pakistani naval aircraft, both P-3C Orion maritime surveillance planes, have been destroyed, and another was damaged. The Taliban also detonated a fuel storage tank.

Ten Pakistani naval personnel and four terrorists have been reported killed during the fighting. The terrorists were said to have taken hostages, including several Chinese military personnel, and have seized control of one or more buildings on the base. Pakistani officials, including Rehman Malik, later denied any hostages, including foreigners, were taken.

Pakistani naval commandos, Marines, and Rangers were deployed to battle the Taliban assault team.

The Pakistani Taliban has claimed credit for the attack. The Taliban and allied terror groups such at the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which has a significant presence in Karachi, have launched similar attacks in the past.

"We claim responsibility for this attack in Karachi," Ihsanullah Ihsan, a Taliban spokesman said. "We had already warned after Osama's (bin Laden) martyrdom that we will carry out even bigger attacks."

Today's assault on the Karachi naval base is very similar to the Oct. 10, 2009 attack on the Army General Headquarters in Rawalpindi, in which terrorists penetrated the heavily guarded installation and held several senior and junior officers hostage.

The Taliban have targeted Pakistani Navy personnel in Karachi in the recent past. Nine people were killed in three separate bombings that targeted naval personnel on buses in the city on April 26 and April 27.

Al Qaeda has teamed up with the Taliban to execute attacks in Karachi. In November, 2010, both groups attacked the Crime Investigation Department headquarters in a highly secured area of the city. During the assault, 17 people were killed, including two CID officers and five paramilitary soldiers guarding the building.

Multiple Taliban groups, as well as al Qaeda, have vowed to take revenge for the death of Osama bin Laden, who was killed by US SEALs and CIA operatives on May 2 in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad. But terrorist groups have been attacking Pakistani security forces for years.

Pakistan's military has been under fire from the public since the May 2 assault, as officials have admitted they were unaware of the mission to kill bin Laden. The operation took place just north of Islamabad, and was far from Pakistan's tribal areas, where bin Laden was presumed to have been hiding. Bin Laden was living in Abbottabad for more than six years and actively communicating with al Qaeda and Taliban leaders as he lived next door to Pakistan's premier military academy.

Sources:



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READER COMMENTS: "Taliban assault team attacks Pakistani Navy base"

Posted by Charu at May 22, 2011 6:38 PM ET:

Why would terrorists target the naval airbase? And why Karachi, which is likely the safe place for many in the Taliban and aQ? Are there nukes stored in this location that could be the real prize?

The Pakistani military have lied and prevaricated for so long and so often that no one trusts them any more; not the US and, ironically, apparently not their Frankenstein creations either.

Posted by blert at May 22, 2011 7:17 PM ET:

This attack was launched by the ISI 'deep state' elements...

It is congruent with Islamabad's 'request' for the PLAN to scale up their naval presence.

http://www.ft.com/intl/cms/s/0/3914bd36-8467-11e0-afcb-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1N7ZQcqjx

This is the quid pro quo for the 50 fighter-jets that were a 'gift' with no strings attached along with our downed stealth SEAL chopper.

The loss of that machine is a bigger event than the we'd like to admit.

Posted by Eric at May 22, 2011 8:40 PM ET:

I was checking out a Pakistan Defence Forum and these Pakis are saying that this is a CIA/Mossad/RAW/MI6 operation to make the Pakistan military look ineffective. Apparently, the US will then have justification to invade Pakistan to take control of their nukes.

Can you believe these guys?

Posted by Victor at May 22, 2011 9:10 PM ET:

Eric:
Welcome to the paranoid world of Pakistan, where every leaf which falls from a tree is the result of a major international conspiracy. A part of it is a reflection of the insecurity of an illegitimate state; another is a reflection of their delusion about how critical they are to the rest of the world. Wait till you hear about they are the only nation in the history of mankind to have destroyed (sic) two super-powers in twenty years.

------------------------

Some of the better connected posters on these forums had originally claimed that was an inside job. Even if they were outside elements involved they seem to have had strong inside support.

There is a lull in the operations because the attackers are in a building with sensitive assets. There is some speculation that it could be nukes.

Posted by Clarence Darby the Villain at May 22, 2011 9:50 PM ET:

@Eric

Yes, I can believe Pakistanis are relatively quick to blame everyone else but themselves for domestic terror events.

Don't these internet crusading scumbags even know that their precious ISI wouldn't even let us pass out surplus British Enfield rifles to the mujahideen in the 80s?

Posted by omar at May 22, 2011 10:02 PM ET:

"strategic depth" strikes again.

Posted by Graham at May 22, 2011 10:13 PM ET:

"Pakistani naval commandos, Marines, and Rangers have been deployed and are fighting the gunmen.

Read more: http://www.longwarjournal.org/archives/2011/05/pakistani_navy_base.php#ixzz1N8pyzypI"

Best of luck, men! Pakistan Zindabad!

Pakistani military and police personnel risking their lives fighting against Talibs and other extremists=YES

Pakistani army leaders, government officials, and ISI bosses supporting those very same Talibs and extremists=NO

Posted by sanman at May 22, 2011 10:27 PM ET:

I'm watching it all live on the Pakistani english-language news channel Express TV:

http://www.expresslive.50webs.com/expen.html


Seems like 2 of their P3C Orion aircraft have been destroyed - ouch!

Apparently, they're 12-18 attackers, all dressed in black.

Fight still going on. It's a large base, but a bunch of them are holed up in some building, and the army is worried about going in there in force, because they don't want to lose any more topline aircraft.

Posted by SR at May 22, 2011 10:27 PM ET:

The big question is - at what point do we start calling this a civil war in Pukistan?
This is just a fratricidal war between the various Jihadi and Military factions - every now and then the various brothers take up arms to sort out differences - this is no different - this is how scores used to be settled in the Mughal era too - welcome to the delusional, conspiratorial world of Pukistan.

Posted by Render at May 22, 2011 10:37 PM ET:

BBC reporting Chinese military among the hostages.

PEAR
SHAPED,
R

Posted by Victor at May 22, 2011 10:48 PM ET:

It seems the vital assets are Chinese engineers and not nukes. Attempts were being made to rescue them and force a surrender.

The one question I have is that aren't the Chinese supposed to keep off the bases where the latest US equipment is being kept? These PN P3's were upgraded recently with the latest AEW suite. How secure is our equipment if Chinese engineers are working in the same hangars?

Posted by Spooky at May 22, 2011 10:51 PM ET:

This is the main base for Pakistan's naval air arm, which has a defensive function. So I doubt they would place nukes with a non-strike element. Besides, with Karachi as insane as it is on a normal day, I sincerely doubt Pakistan would keep the nukes (or rather, parts of nukes) there.

The nukes remain in the general vicinity of Islamabad. The only time nukes are likely to be near a port will be once they acquire SLBM-capable submarines....and even then, they'd likely keep them at the more secure location of Gwadar rather than Karachi or Bin Qasim.

Posted by kulamarva balakrishna at May 23, 2011 12:08 AM ET:

Vienna,23-05-2011
There is no way to save such a confused but blindly militant
nation.We should just keep watching them destroying themselves. Neighbours on the west or east should keep
guard at all times because we can not know how mad minds
work.
-Kulamarva Balakrishna

Posted by Fred at May 23, 2011 12:41 AM ET:

I doubt any nukes in the facility would be stored anywhere but a very deep vault with those big doors that are accompanied by heroic music whenever they open. But who knows, we are talking about Pakistan. Taking a leaf out of their own book, perhaps it's an elaborate conspiracy by some members of the Pakistani military or the ISI to give nukes to the Taliban, as suggested by Victor.

I don't usually like those sort of theories, but again, we are talking about Pakistan, our Worst. Allies. Ever. We really shouldn't invade them, but I will admit that I'm tempted to support a swift kick off of the fence, and damn the consequences.

Not a good idea at all, and not going to happen anyway. These people are starting to get on my nerves though. Pick a side and eat your grass, damn you.

Posted by Tyler at May 23, 2011 12:52 AM ET:

This has Ilyas Kashmiri written all over it.

Well-trained Fedayeen, practical target (foreign military advisors & $40 million aircraft), drew in the TV cameras.

That guy has to get got.

Posted by Naresh C. at May 23, 2011 1:09 AM ET:

Pakistani army consumes most of the budget but it can't even keep itself safe. I hope that the condos in Dubai and farmhouses given to the military men by the starving people without electricity was well worth it. I am sure that Pakistanis will blame RAW, CIA, Mossad and Blackwater/Xie for the attack. Is there any way that the Pakistani military can make a peace deal with the militants that are holed up in exchange for establishing sharia/nizam-e-adl in Karachi?

Posted by Don Vandervelde at May 23, 2011 2:14 AM ET:

Kula, thanks, you've got it right. Ancient P-3s topline aircraft, even with 'upgraded' electronics? As they say, lol. Put a fence around Pak, and it'd make a first class insane asylum. The sooner the Indians put them out of their misery, the better.

Posted by BullsEye at May 23, 2011 2:41 AM ET:

China??

What the hell are Chinses military personnel doing in Pakistan? How close are they to the stealth chopper parts in storage? And the Orion aircraft are so conveniently stored nearby to these Chinese military guys.

Pakistan is playing everyone. It's the only way they can survive.

Posted by Tim at May 23, 2011 3:07 AM ET:

Chinese personnel are within the hostages. No doubt spying on gradiose gifts of high-tech weaponry foolishly gifted by the US to Pakistan (This air-base housed the PC3 Orion aircraft!). Read this piece of news about how China may have links with even the Taliban:

http://www.rediff.com/news/report/column-how-china-is-subsidising-pakistans-security/20110523.htm

Posted by Victor at May 23, 2011 10:14 AM ET:

Now for some humor:

ALIENS


He said two of the attackers look to be around 22 years of age and one of the suicide bombers was around 25 years of age. He said they were dressed in black clothes “like they do in movies”.

‘They were dressed like Star Wars characters,’ said Malik.



Rehman Malik is the Interior Minister of Pakistan. That is some one who cares of security issues within the country; somewhat like our DHS.

http://tribune.com.pk/story/174308/all-terrorists-killed-in-nayy-base-operation-rehman-malik/

Posted by indus at May 23, 2011 11:12 AM ET:

The attack began at about 11:30pm local time. Were the Chinese sleeping at the base? What were they doing there close to midnight. Were they there at this late hour to hide their presence.

This has been termed a coordinated and complex attack. Who in Pakistan could have imparted training for such a complex attack, though for a different mission, except the ISI or Army.

And if a major base such as this can so easily be violated, how safe are Pakistan's nukes? While the likelihood of nukes on this base is remote, they may well have been there as part of proliferation to NKorea and Iran. Or has the proliferation now completely stopped!

Posted by omar at May 23, 2011 11:34 AM ET:

Related: http://www.3quarksdaily.com/3quarksdaily/2011/05/pakistan-the-narratives-come-home-to-roost-by-omar-ali-.html#more

Posted by Chris at May 23, 2011 11:39 AM ET:

Does anyone know why the Chinese are on this military base with US military equipment? These people are Chinese military engineers or spooks (same thing). What are they doing there with the permission of the Pakistanis? Surely it is not for their love for the Pakistani people. What are they actually doing for the Pakistanis at this Military Base?

Posted by gfgwgc at May 23, 2011 2:01 PM ET:

The Pakistani people are perplexed and disoriented. The Predator attacks continue unabated despite vocal condemnation by their leaders. On the other hand, their much glorified military is getting slapped around by all sides. Their civilian leadership is incompetent and a joke. Interior minister Rahman Malik, not the sharpest tack during the best of times, has already made silly and confusing comments about the attackers saying they were "dressed like Star War character" and were "like in the movies" and "were wearing western clothes" and "had received support and training elsewhere".

The time is ripe for a thousand more conspiracy theories to flourish. The ordinary Pakistani will have many convoluted explanations to pick from.

Posted by Spooky at May 23, 2011 2:39 PM ET:

You guys do realize that Pakistanis use mostly Chinese aircraft don't you? On that particular base, the majority of their equipment are Chinese Harbins.

Posted by Bungo at May 23, 2011 3:23 PM ET:

This is just another tricky day in Pakistan. Pakistan makes Iraq and Afghanistan look like smoothly functioning, modern, sophisticated, representative republics. How do they ever survive an entire month of such insanity?

Posted by CWolf1 at May 23, 2011 6:18 PM ET:

Remember the old cold war days' addage: If you want the Russians to know something, tell the French?

It's the same thing today: IF you want the Chinese to know something, tell the Pakistanis.

I'm sure the Chinese already knows the inside of the P-3C after they were able to examine the EP-3 in Hainan.

Posted by Charu at May 23, 2011 6:24 PM ET:

@Tyler, this does smell like Ilyas Kashmiri, just as the attack on the Sri Lankan cricketers in 2009 did. Classic 70's styled TV terrorism for publicity, and copied from the ISI's successful 2008 playbook in Mumbai. It has nothing to do with bin Laden's death except for this being a convenient excuse. Finding Chinese hostages in there was a bonus - they would have much preferred American hostages for a greater media impact. Kashmiri is a greater immediate threat to us than Zawahiri is at this time.

Posted by Marlin at May 23, 2011 7:31 PM ET:

The Pakistani military continues to show that it has a firm grasp on reality.

The chief of Pakistan Navy Admiral Nauman Bashir, rejecting the impression that terrorists wanted to cause material damage to Navy, has said that terrorists targeted the Naval forces, Geo News reported Sunday.

[...]

Nauman dismissed rumors of security breach. “This attack could not be termed as security lapse,” he stated.

Unbelievable, he could say that with a straight face in a news conference.

Geo TV: Militants targeted Navy, not aircrafts: Naval Chief

Posted by Victor at May 23, 2011 9:06 PM ET:

Spooky:


You just need one look at Google Earth or the pictures coming from the attack that most of the equipment there is not Chinese. It is a bunch of the US made P3C, Dutch Fokkers, French Atlantique, British Westland Sea-Kings.

The Harbin squadron is supposed to be based on their type F-22P Frigates. It is the only Chinese equipment in the PNS naval arm.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pakistan_Naval_Air_Arm
==========
CWolf1:

No one cares about the air-frame, it is the electronics they are interested in. The avionics would have evolved multiple times since the Hainin incident almost a decade ago. The P3Cs at this base were delivered within the past year or two and would contain recent technology.

Posted by Render at May 23, 2011 10:27 PM ET:

Victor - "It is the only Chinese equipment in the PNS naval arm."

R - You dropped an important word there...

===

Noting that this is the third attack on Pakistani naval assets in a months time, I doubt highly that any individual aircraft type was considered a primary target, in as much as any military aircraft (and personnel) at all would do. The objective is death, destruction, and mayhem. Objective achieved.

At what point do we get to call this a civil war?

WHAT'S SO
CIVIL ABOUT
IT ANYWAY?,
R

Posted by captainjohann at May 23, 2011 11:54 PM ET:

The Naval air arm had the reccee aircrafts provided by USA Defence coperation Agency under ops enduring freedom to monitor gulf of aden, Arabian sea etc. The combined task force had elements from UK

Posted by seema at May 24, 2011 8:28 AM ET:

It is congruent with Islamabad's 'request' for the PLAN to scale up their naval presence.

Posted by blert at May 24, 2011 4:33 PM ET:

To further elaborate: the attack permitted the PLAN to gain possession of the P-3 electronics which were removed during the 'attack' and when joined with the stealth helicopter constitute payment for the Chinese gift of 50 fighter jets.

By destroying the planes with fire, the missing gear can be explained away. America is not to know that her sub-hunting skills have been compromised.

That Obama and Gates would permit P-3s for Pakistan... crazy is as crazy does.

This op in conjunction with OBL demonstrates that ISI is a full fledged enemy of America.

The 'terrorist' commandos were mostly able to 'escape' -- which was ever the plan. This fact is why their press agent loudly trumpeted their 'suicide' orientation. Such is propaganda designed to stop any hunt for surviving 'terrorists.'

Posted by Marlin at May 24, 2011 8:21 PM ET:

As mentioned earlier in this comment string there were Chinese on the base at the time of the attack. Perhaps not so surprisingly, there were also Americans present.

The bullet-proof vehicles pressed into service to evacuate foreigners from the Pakistan Navy’s Mehran base immediately after Sunday night’s armed assault were attacked by the raiders who appeared to be aware of the emergency evacuation plan, security sources told Dawn on Tuesday.

It was because of the bullet-proof vehicles that the foreigners — six Americans and 11 Chinese — were safely evacuated, said the sources. They added that the vehicles had been hit by bullets, but were not damaged.

The sources also said that American contractors were working on a project to upgrade P-3C Orion aircraft.

Dawn: Foreigners were attacked during evacuation

Posted by kp at May 25, 2011 1:15 AM ET:

The EP-3 (a SIGINT/ELINT aircraft) and the P3C (maritime patrol) have very little avionics (aside from NAV, WX, some comms etc) in common. I rather doubt the (new) P3C spent much time with Chinese technicians looking at them. Fr the P3C you can know how the radar works and still not do much about it (assuming it's an Active Electronically Steered Array). Nothing much learned that you couldn't learn from watching the ELINT from a P3C on patrol (the Chinese can already do that).

BTW, there were US technicians at the base too. What were they doing with Chinese hardware at the base? :-)

In other news ...

Chinese were taken hostage

http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/25/world/asia/25china.html

China rejects Pakistan's naval base request

http://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/world/china/China-rejects-Pakistans-naval-base-request/articleshow/8558817.cms

Interesting.

Posted by destab at May 25, 2011 2:01 AM ET:

blert: More than plausible unfortunately. How could they escape the base was meant to be surrounded by their most "crack" troops. Escaped. No! Escorted, more like it.

Posted by villiger at May 25, 2011 1:02 PM ET:

destab,
Its strange isn't it?

Nobody seems to even be asking the hundred-million-dollar-question!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Two 'militants' "escaped"?

What they went out the same way they came, 17 hrs earlier/later?

Are the Pakis asking? The western media highlighting/investigating?

How can they be so sure there were two and not six?

Are they even sure the 4 dead are 'militants'?And not military personals [sic] as the Pakis love to say.

Pakistan's future is one big question mark. (What we know is, the past is crap and the present even worse. Go ahead and extrapolate. You don't need to be des Cartes.) And the people who seem to have or want little control over their country are the 'regular' folk. Where are they?

As the man said, I am glad i not a Pakistanian. They don't know what's coming to them. Nobody does, thats the truth.

If only they didn't have those nukes, one wouldn't need to spend so much money in pussy-footing around them, or even engineering a controlled implosion.

Haul these guys to the UN and get some intelligent debate going around their nukes, just as the first step, before its too late. Its a mad world we live in, thats the truth. Strange days!


Posted by Charu at May 25, 2011 5:57 PM ET:

Let alone that 2 'escaped', how convenient that no 'militant' was captured alive, unlike the little accident in Mumbai when Kasab forgot to martyr himself. And if you believe that Chinese technicians in the vicinity of advanced US weaponry is nothing to be concerned about, then you are perhaps unaware of the massive intelligence gathering operation (humint and electronic) that China has aimed at the US.

Pakistan was stupid in overtly requesting the Chinese to build a naval base in Gwadar, which is why they had to publicly reject it. But you can bet that this is the direction that China will go once it begins to flex its economic muscle. China is quietly licking its chops at having a naval base near the Persian Gulf; something that the Russians long desired but could never attain. Another reason to help free Baluchistan and tie it to Afghanistan and the Central Asian republics.

Posted by kp at May 25, 2011 6:45 PM ET:

Interesting quote from

http://www.dawn.com/2011/05/25/pakistan-raid-raises-nuclear-fears.html

Navy chief Admiral Noman Bashir said two of those attackers who escaped were “facilitators who brought in equipment and ammunition for their accomplices,” but gave no more details.

So perhaps insiders on the base (helping out) or folks with fake IDs that brought stuff in then left before the attack got going.

Posted by Victor at May 25, 2011 11:23 PM ET:

This is becoming more and more confusing.

There are clear clues of an inside job. The interior minister announced the raid a few minutes after it had begun; when even the on-base guards were not aware of what was going on.

Why would they want to destroy those P3Cs? There might be some element of truth in the bizarre hypothesis that what was burnt was just the shells of the P3C while the sensitive electronics were spirited away.


Inside Job


They also say it was peculiar that Malik came on air at 10:43pm on Sunday, claiming that around 10 to 15 attackers had not only infiltrated the PNS Mehran base, but also taken control.

“The attack began at 10:37pm. How could he claim to know all that when even we at the control room did not know the exact position,” they added.



Malik refers to their interior minister who claimed that the attackers were from Star Wars.

Posted by Villiger at May 26, 2011 3:55 AM ET:

Charu, you have it absolutely figured right on Chinese intentions.

Baluchistan is a 'gift'--Balochis pls. don't get me wrong. I mean its a fortuitous situation in the scheme of things. It'll be a win-win situation when it happens. Note, there's no IF about it.

This war requires a massive amount of patience. Obama has it. Hope i'm not wrong.

Posted by Jimmy at May 26, 2011 4:43 AM ET:

Read this insightful piece about China-Pak "all-weather friendship". So much for Pres. Obama's G2 between US and China!

http://www.rediff.com/news/column/china-and-pakistan-an-all-weather-friendship/20110526.htm

Posted by kp at May 26, 2011 10:36 AM ET:

Pakistan revises the number of Attackers down to four; used wireless comms to talk to their commander (where have we seen that before?)

http://tribune.com.pk/story/176343/navy-revises-down-the-number-of-attackers/

KARACHI: The Pakistan Navy on Wednesday retracted the number of Mehran base attackers that it cited in its First Information Report (FIR) lodged at the Shahrae Faisal police station on Tuesday. The initial count of the terrorists provided by the navy personnel stood at around 10 to 12. However, on Wednesday they amended the number to four. The new headcount is more in line with the one provided by Interior Minister Rehman Malik, who said there were six terrorists who launched the assault on the PNS Mehran Airbase.

So did 4 guys manage to hold off 100 commandos for 17 hours or did the Pakistanis only kill four out of a larger number?

http://www.thenews.com.pk/NewsDetail.aspx?ID=16104

A high-tech walkie-talkie set has been recovered from the bushes confirming the reports that the raiders were in contact with their commander.

Not quite an intercept and why throw it away?

Posted by Marlin at May 26, 2011 12:52 PM ET:

It is interesting to read this comment string that adds pieces to the puzzle as they become available. Here's a couple of more pieces I noticed today.

“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.

Dawn: Inside help suspected in PNS base attack

A high-tech walkie-talkie set has been recovered from the bushes confirming the reports that the raiders were in contact with their commander.

The militants came loaded with sophisticated weaponry including rocket launchers hand grenades, Kalashnikovs etc. Raiders fired more than 1100 bullets and seven rockets. Investigators recovered 860 spent cases of Kalashnikovs, 165 of Triple two rifle, 29 of light machine gun, 12 hand grenades, rocket launcher and one suicide vest.

Geo TV: Attackers were in contact with commander

Posted by tayyab at May 26, 2011 4:26 PM ET:

Conspiracy theories on this page:

1. Deliberate destruction of P3C for electronics etc.
2. Giving nukes to attackers
3. Chinese at the base for spying
4. Escaped militants escorted away
5. Timing of rehman malik speech

And I thought we were the nation full of conspiracy theory addicts.

Posted by Render at May 26, 2011 4:37 PM ET:

"triple two rifle"?

As in Remington .222 shell casings? Not entirely impossible, or all that rare, but hardly a military caliber. Sometimes .223/5.56mm rifles are re-chambered for the .222 Remington caliber to get around civilian bans on military ammo, but even that seems a bit odd, when there are no lack of AK type rifles available. Perhaps they mean Russian 5.45x39mm (.221cal)?

Only 29 LMG casings? I'm guessing they mean 7.62x54 (older Soviet round) as opposed to 7.62x39 AK series. Did they not find all of the spent casings, did the gunner not fire off the full belt for whatever reason, or was the weapon using that caliber something else entirely, like maybe a Mosin-Nagant bolt-action or Dragunov variant?

HMMM,
R

Posted by wallbangr at May 26, 2011 6:18 PM ET:

@tayyab: LOL. Good point. However, a brief scan of the South Asian papers/blog posts reveals much more sinister and less plausible conspiracy theories than these. (case in point: check out the links on the twitter feed from Dawn.com: http://www.dawn.com/2011/05/23/twitter-updates-on-pns-attack.html)

And you must admit, something is rotten in the State of Denmark. The fact that they took out P3s and the suspect timing of the request for a naval base from China is raising some hackles. Of course, the usual bumbling and contradictory pak response is only adding to the obfuscation.

Posted by Render at May 26, 2011 7:19 PM ET:

"1. Deliberate destruction of P3C for electronics etc."

R- Not entirely implausible. Where is F-16A Block 15E USAF # 81-0899 PAF # 82701? It is reported as being "written off," if so where is/are the body/parts? They shouldn't be too difficult to find, after all, it was the very first F-16 delivered to Pakistan.

"2. Giving nukes to attackers"

R - Theory quickly dispensed with. Wrong base. Pakistani nukes are fairly large and heavy aircraft delivered weapons. They don't fit in pockets.

"3. Chinese at the base for spying"

R - Again, not entirely implausible, and if true certainly not the first time Chinese "technicians" have been caught spying on a nation that they're supposed to be aiding.

"4. Escaped militants escorted away"

R - Although first mentioned here in an unsourced comment by Destab, it was later alluded to by several Pakistani media outlets, including Dawn. Is there any confirmation that any terrorists (they are not "militants") actually escaped at all? Is there any confirmation of how many there were in the first place? If just four guys on foot did that much damage in that short a space of time while simultaneously holding off SSG, then you guys might just as well surrender now. Not even Chuck Norris can help you.

"5. Timing of rehman malik speech"

R - Reported by Victor and sourced from a Pakistani news link. You were saying?

CHECKER,
R

Posted by Marlin at May 27, 2011 6:14 AM ET:

Hmmm, maybe the attack didn't begin at 10:37 PM.

[...]the investigation team visited PNS Shifa Hospital and met with 14 officers and personnel who were injured in the attack, and recorded their statements.

The sources also stated that the injured victims told the investigation team that the attackers were already inside the naval base at 9:30pm.

The victims have been restricted from using mobile phones until the investigation is complete.

Dawn: Investigation team records statements of PNS Mehran injured

Posted by Marlin at May 27, 2011 8:29 AM ET:

It will be interesting to see how aggressively the Pakistanis pursue those who originated the attack on PNS Mehran.

Security forces on Friday conducted a raid in Faisalabad and arrested a suspect who is believed to be involved in the attack on the PNS Mehran base in Karachi, DawnNews reported.

The suspect, Qari Qaseer is originally reported to belong to Dera Ghazi Khan and had been traced through a cell-phone call that had been made by the terrorists.

Reports stated that Qaseer had been running a madrassah in DG Khan.

Dawn: Suspect arrested for involvement in PNS Mehran attack"

Posted by steve m at May 27, 2011 10:15 AM ET:

I was hoping to hear some reports on this article.
http://atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/ME27Df06.html

Posted by Neo at May 27, 2011 11:11 AM ET:

“"5. Timing of rehman malik speech"
R - Reported by Victor and sourced from a Pakistani news link. You were saying?”

I don’t put much stock in timing problems. This sort of “who knows what when” stuff just leads to rampant speculation, not to mention the possibility of blatant misinformation. Wait until everyone gets a better handle on what the timeline actually was, than start looking at major inconsistencies.

“"4. Escaped militants escorted away"
R - Although first mentioned here in an unsourced comment by Destab, it was later alluded to by several Pakistani media outlets, including Dawn.
Is there any confirmation that any terrorists (they are not "militants") actually escaped at all? Is there any confirmation of how many there were in the first place? If just four guys on foot did that much damage in that short a space of time while simultaneously holding off SSG, then you guys might just as well surrender now. Not even Chuck Norris can help you"

LOL! Blatantly making up numbers seems to be par for the course. It seems to be a bit of a game involved. Authorities expect to be believed because they are the authorities. Nobody believes them because they are the authorities. Perfect symmetry!

“"3. Chinese at the base for spying"
R - Again, not entirely implausible, and if true certainly not the first time Chinese "technicians" have been caught spying on a nation that they're supposed to be aiding.”

I am sure the Chinese would take any information if it suited them. I would consider the espionage angle to be a relatively minor footnote here though.

Posted by Neo at May 27, 2011 12:46 PM ET:

I think much of this discussion has missed the point. There are a few things that might be more relevant than much of this speculation. This sort of attack is almost always carries a message. Who is sending, and who is the intended.

It has long been suspected that the Karachi office of of the ISI is ground center for the pro-Taliban sympathizers. The Pakistani navy and air force in contrast likes it’s ties with the west. Karachi itself is a place ripe for conflict with its large Pashtoon population in the surrounding slums and a Sindi and Urban Muhajir populations that are hostile to the incoming Pashtoon population. One would think Karachi would be a center for conflict, unless someone had a strong interest in it remaining stable. There is plenty of circumstantial evidence that both sides have an interest in keeping the lid on violence in Karachi. If the Pashtoons riot the Muhajirs and Sindis will riot as well. That would be a volatile mess for all interests.

Up to this point the ISI doesn’t like to get sucked to far into direct large scale operations. It would rather work through proxies. The ISI remembers the 1989 Jalalabad debacle all to well. They would rather foment discord than challenge directly. Could this be a true direct attack by the ISI against the Navy. The obvious message would be unhappiness over Bin Laden’s death and the Pakistani Navies continued ties to the United States. More likely than a direct attack, would be involvement of former ISI agents and organizations with close ISI ties.

Posted by Villiger at May 27, 2011 1:54 PM ET:

More C-theories.

I think Syed Shahzad has it right, as does Bill.
http://atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/ME27Df06.html

This is pay back to the Pak Navy for them hounding out AQ members in the navy.

From Bill's blog (it doesn't look like many have read it, so here's an extract with the link):

Given the nature of the attack - a complex, coordinated assault on a high-security installation, and the location, in Karachi, the likelihood is that this was a joint operation between the Taliban and allied terrorist groups. Brigade 313, the unit commanded by al Qaeda and HUJI leader Ilyas Kashmiri, very likely has a role in this attack.

Read more: http://www.longwarjournal.org/threat-matrix/archives/2011/05/pakistan_taliban_claim_assault.php#ixzz1Na2SY2dI

Posted by Raven at May 27, 2011 2:40 PM ET:

I would agree with Neo's angle on this. This could be ex-ISI/non-regulars sending a message.

Also, my friend tells me that creation of Pakistan is itself a conspiracy. End would begin with other conspiracies?

My own speculation: Does Navy control any drug trafficking routes in/out of Karachi? This may have a stream of income angle to it. Btw, when does a opinion/comment becomes a conspiracy?

Posted by Marlin at May 27, 2011 9:28 PM ET:

More arrests. I hope to a useful end and not the usual hold them for a few days and then release them for lack of ability to tie them to the terrorist act.

Secret agencies in Karachi have arrested four suspects allegedly involved in PNS Mehran Base attack, Geo News reported.

According to the sources, four suspects were arrested from Korangi area of the metropolis which were shifted to undisclosed location for interrogation.

Geo TV: PNS Mehran attack: four suspects arrested from Karachi

Posted by destab at May 28, 2011 1:39 AM ET:

As I'm cited as starting Conspiracy No.4, I must confess that it was mere conjecture, born out of disbelief that the Pakistani "Crack" troops could be so incompetent. They were reported to be surrounding the attacked base, prepared to catch any “squirters”.
Thank you though being held responsible for a conspiracy has made my week.
Perhaps the terrorists used “the Force” to escape, having hidden it in their Jedi Knight costumes.

Posted by destab at May 28, 2011 1:42 AM ET:

Hang on 4 arrests, 4 dead and only 4 attackers. Are there schools in Pakistan? :-)

Posted by Neo at May 28, 2011 8:35 PM ET:


Destab, We are laughing with you, rather than at you, on conspiracy theory No. 4

Pakistani official estimates on infiltrators is a game easily simulated. Are you familiar with the old Milton Bradley game Yahtzee.

One more 4 and we have a Yahtzee, or was that Allah Akbarrrrr...........

Posted by Marlin at May 30, 2011 4:37 PM ET:

The arrests continue. Could this be the 'inside help' that many in the Pakistani military suspected?

Pakistani security officials have detained a former navy commando and his brother in connection with last week’s militant attack on a naval air base, intelligence officials and relatives said on Monday.

[...]

Kamran Ahmed, who was sacked from the navy about 10 years ago, and his younger brother, Zaman, were picked up from the eastern city of Lahore on Friday, five days after the attack that killed at least 10 military personnel.

Dawn: Former Navy commando arrested in PNS Mehran investigation

Kamran Ahmed was court-martialed 10 years ago on charges of torture. A brother and aide were also arrested by the security agencies on Friday.

He had been posted at PNS Mehran and PNS Iqbal.

Geo TV: PNS Mehran attack: Ex-Navy commando held

Posted by Render at May 30, 2011 8:57 PM ET:

Destab - My apologies, it was not my intention to leave that albatross in your pocket, in any measure.

WITH
YOU,
R

Posted by Charles at May 31, 2011 3:07 PM ET:

“Syed Saleem Shahzad, the Pakistan Bureau Chief for Asia Times Online who went missing on Sunday evening, has been killed, according to police.

Shahzad, who has been writing for Hong Kong-based Asia Times Online for nearly 10 years, failed to show up for a scheduled appearance on a television talk show in the capital Islamabad.

Police reported that his body was found in a canal in Mandi Bahauddin in Punjab province about 150 kilometers southeast of Islamabad and about 10 kilometers from where his car was found. They said that his body bore marks of torture.

[....]

Human Rights Watch researcher Ali Dayan Hasan earlier said he suspected ISI officials abducted Shahzad, possibly because of a recent story he wrote on al-Qaeda infiltration in the Pakistani navy. Authorities haven't commented."

http://atimes.com/atimes/South_Asia/MF01Df03.html

Posted by blert at June 1, 2011 10:15 AM ET:

When you consider that AQ in Yemen is sponsoring piracy in the Indian Ocean...

Taking a 20% cut off the top...

Mohammed style...

It all connects.

Our ex-P3s are being used to thwart our own campaign!

For it is a snap for such platforms to relay 'prospects' to AQ!

You just can't work with Pakistan. It's the problem.

Her interests align with perpetual war...

Stringing us out...

While bleeding us financially.

The relationship is parasitic.

Posted by jayant at June 4, 2011 11:16 AM ET:

Good Stuff. Impressed with the kind of intelligence US has started being able to source. if this keep going like this they sure going to run scarce of virgins up there....

Posted by jayant at June 5, 2011 2:01 PM ET:

Good Stuff. Impressed with the kind of intelligence US has started being able to source. if this keep going like this they sure going to run scarce of virgins up there....

my bad, wrong article, this related to getting kashmiri.

Posted by Marlin at June 18, 2011 5:28 PM ET:

No surprise that the DNA for the four killed 'militants' didn't find a match in the Pakistani's database.

According to police officials, the DNA samples of the four terrorists were sent to Islamabad for testing. The officials added that these samples did not match the DNA databank in Pakistan.

According to sources, DNA cannot be used to determine the nationality of an individual. NADRA [National Database and Registration Authority] currently has a record of the registration of approximately 100 million people.

Geo Tv: Police receive DNA report of PNS Mehran terrorists

Posted by Marlin at June 18, 2011 6:52 PM ET:

A little more on the DNA testing results. Given that this is Pakistan one has to wonder how self-serving these results are.

A senior official said on Saturday that the Kahuta Research Laboratories (KRL) in Islamabad had been approached to trace ethnic origin of the four militants who had raided the PNS base.

“We have finally received the report that led to the fact that none of attackers was Pakistani,” said SSP Investigation East Niaz Ahmed Khosa. “The findings carried three key facts which suggested that the attackers were foreigners, belonged to the Eurasian region and were blood relatives.”

[...]

Officials said the remains, including four legs and a damaged skull of the two raiders who had blown themselves up inside a building at the base, had been collected along with the bodies of two other militants after the forces regained control of the base.

“Medico-legal examination of the bodies and remains determined the age of two militants in early 20s and early 30s. The age of the other two could not be ascertained as we only got their remains that made the job a little difficult,” SSP Khosa said.

Dawn: Mehran base attackers were `foreigners`