23 May 2011

12 dead after siege at Pakistan naval base

8:28 pm on 23 May 2011

Troops in Pakistan have ended a siege by militants who attacked a naval base in the city of Karachi, according to navy sources.

The troops are now said to be "mopping up" after the raid, which has left at least 12 soldiers dead on Monday.

The attackers were said to have been holed up in an office building with hostages after storming the Mehran naval aviation base overnight on Sunday, the BBC reports.

The Pakistan Taliban has claimed responsibility, saying the raid was to avenge the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama Bin Laden in the city of Abbottabad by US special forces on 2 May.

The militants stormed three hangars housing aircraft at the base on Sunday about 10.30pm, according to officials.

Eyewitnesses say they used rocket-propelled grenades to damage and destroy several warplanes, including the Pakistan navy's premier anti-submarine attack jet a P-3C Orion.

The gunmen then opened indiscriminate fire, killing several naval personnel as they carried their raid into the heart of the base, the BBC reports.

Navy commandos and marines the launched a counter-assault, supported by dozens of heavily armed army reinforcements. Some of the militants were killed, officials say.

The remaining gunmen took several officials, reportedly including Chinese military personnel, hostage inside a building. At dawn on Monday, three loud blasts were heard, followed by gunfire.

On Friday, the Taliban bombed a US consulate convoy in Peshawar, killing one Pakistani.

Other attacks by Pakistani militants in May include a raid on a security post that killed two police in the north-west and a twin suicide bombing at a paramilitary police training centre.