05/23/2011, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Karachi: Pakistani Taliban attack military base, killing 11

by Jibran Khan
The assault began last night and lasted over 12 hours. The militiamen had food and ammunition to fight for at least three days. Among the hostages there were also Chinese army officers. It is the third attack against a military target in Pakistan in less than a month. Taliban spokesman: we are "united and powerful."

Karachi (AsiaNews) - At least 11 dead is the toll from a Taliban attack against a Pakistani army base in Karachi. The assault began at 23:00 yesterday local time (18.30 in Italy) and only just ended. Local sources said that militants were well equipped, they had enough food and ammunition to "fight and survive at least three days." Today’s violence is the latest response from the extremists to the killing of Osama Bin Laden following the double bombing on May 13 last against a military barracks in Charsadda, which caused 90 deaths.

A group of 10-15 militants raided the air base in the Mehran complex in Karachi, southern Pakistan. Witnesses say there were at least a dozen explosions. The battle, which lasted more than 12 hours, destroyed at least two surveillance aircraft, worth millions of dollars recently donated by the U.S. Army to Islamabad.

The most recent death toll is of 11 dead and several wounded. The fundamentalists had also taken hostage a group of people, including officials of the Chinese army in the military base at the time of the assault.

Rehman Malik, Pakistan's Interior Minister, said that the attack was by militias of the extremist Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan. Again this is a joint operation of Al Qaeda militants and Taliban TTP in Pakistan, to avenge the death of Osamna Bin Laden, who was killed in a raid by U.S. special forces on May 2 last. The Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said that extremist movements are still "united and powerful."

Today was the third attack in less than a month at a military target in Pakistan. On 13 May the Taliban struck an army barracks in the northwest of the country. In the double attack on a group of recruits, who had just received leave, at least 90 people died, including civilians (see AsiaNews 13/05/2011, Twin bombing in Pakistan, 90 dead. Al Qaeda’s response to killing of Bin Laden).

President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani have strongly condemned the attack, they have asked the provincial government of Sindh for a detailed report.

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