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The Pakistan Naval Station Mehran Attack

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Table of contents

  1. PNS Mehran Attack
  2. Initial Reports
  3. TTP Preparations Against Navy
  4. Operation

Pakistan Naval Station Mehran (abbreviated to PNS Mehran) is a Pakistani Naval station and headquarters of the Naval Air Arm. The base is situated in Karachi, Sindh, Pakistan.

From its formation in 1975, Naval Aviation has grown to its present inventory of 41 multi role aircraft.

The latest addition in the Air Arm is the ATR-72. From its inception, being a cost effective solution, Naval Air Arm has depended upon Pakistan Air Force and Pakistan Army to meet the training requirement of air and ground crew.

PNS Mehran Attack

A group of highly-trained militants with night-vision goggles and the collusion of sympathetic Islamist military officials storm a heavily-guarded navy base situated only a few miles from where a unstable Pakistan stores some of its nuclear weapons. The PNS Mehran attack was an attack by Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Al Qaeda which took place on 22 May 2011, at PNS

Mehran, the headquarters of the Pakistan Navy’s Naval Air Arm and the most populous Pakistani military installation. In the course of the event, 15 attackers killed 10 military personnel and wounded 16 in a sophisticated terrorist attack. Two American-built P-3C Orion surveillance aircraft were destroyed. TTP claimed that its force of 8–20 armed men had attacked the base. Aircraft stationed in the base were destroyed using rocket propelled grenades. Though various claims have been made regarding numbers of terrorist only four dead bodies were practically found.

That is the scary way of looking at the attack on the navy base in Karachi on Sunday night that destroyed two U.S.-built aircraft and killed 10 military personnel, fuelling worries about the safety of the world’s fastest-growing nuclear arsenal. In Sunday’s attack, attackers scaled walls with ladders to enter PNS Mehran, one of Pakistan’s most heavily guarded bases, and held off the military for nearly 17 hours.

The attack was the third attack on Pakistani naval forces since American forces killed Osama Bin

Laden A spokesman for the Pakistan Taliban says the raid was revenge for bin Laden’s killing. Eyewitnesses have claimed that the attackers were dressed in naval uniforms and were aware of the security protocol at the base and behaved like soldiers. This contradicts the claim by Pakistan’s Interior Minister, Rehman Malik who had claimed that the attackers had cut through barbed wire at a place on the perimeter where they could not be detected by security cameras, and that they were wearing black.

The attack took place only 15 miles away from a suspected Pakistan nuclear weapons storage site at Masroor air base, a sign of how close the nuclear arsenal is to the growing violence from the Pakistan Taliban and other militant groups.This easy action by the terrorists has rightly raised concerns among the nation that neither any part of the country nor our nuclear installations are safe.

According to the United States and Western intelligence sources, the attack was far more dangerous than the 2009 Pakistan Army General Headquarters attack, and was better planned and more rehearsed than the previous attack. It was the biggest attack on the Navy and its assets, and is believed to be the last major attack of militant mastermind Ilyas Kashmiri.

In many ways the 17-hour siege of Pakistan Navy’s air base, PNS Mehran, in Karachi is reminiscent of the attack on the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi in October 2009. The brutal terrorist attack on the PNS Mehran turned out to be the worst nightmare for the security forces after the October 2009 attack on the GHQ. Pakistan lost 10 brave men at the hands of the terrorists while 15 others were injured. It was the revenge of martyrdom of Osama bin Laden. It was the proof that we are still united and powerful, claimed a spokesman of the Pakistani Taliban.

Initial Reports

Initial reports suggested that around 10-15 terrorists had penetrated PNS Mehran but after the operation, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said that six terrorists conducted the raid. Four of the terrorists were killed while two managed to escape. Two terrorists were gunned down during exchange of fire while one blew himself up to avoid arrest, taking down the building, and the fourth accomplice with him.

Two terroristsare believed to have escaped. Logically, it is highly unlikely that six men were able to engage the trained commandos and rangers for more than 15 hours. They also managed to set ablaze two PC-3 Orion aircraft, each one of which is believed to have cost more than $ 36 million. After the operation, Mr Malik confirmed the presence of 11 Chinese men and six Americans, denied by officials during the operation, at the naval airbase.

According to Naval Intelligence, the militants entered the naval base from the airfield of Faisal Air Force Base, near Mehran Naval Base. The militants then entered nearby buildings and opened fire indiscriminately, killing several naval personnel, and afterwards carried their raid into the heart of the base. According to the intelligence reports, the militants were not Taliban, judging from their abilities and training.

TTP Preparations Against Navy

A month prior to the attack on PNS Neval Base Mehran, the Pakistan Navy was twice targeted for bombings in various locations of Karachi by unknown perpetrators. The first of the bombings took place on 21 April 2011 on two naval buses and the second attack happened on 28 April 2011 on a naval coaster. An estimated 12 lives including one lady naval officer, were lost since the start of the bombing. Prior to the attacks, Naval intelligence was twice alerted by the TTP’s attack on Pakistan naval facilities in Karachi.


Following the attack, the teams of SSG(N) arrived at the scene of shooting from HQ SSG(N). After

the 6 hours after the assault had begun, the counter operation was started. By the time SSG(N) arrived, the attackers had taken position on the roof of an adjacent two-storey building used by Pakistan Navy for pre-and post-flight briefings and debriefings. Prime minister Gillani personally monitored this operation, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Chief of Army Staff, Chief of Air Staff, and Chief of Naval Staff stayed in direct contact with Prime minister Gillani. The core objectives of the mission were issued to SSG(N) teams. The main priority of mission was to recover and evacuate the foreign military advisers from the scene of shooting.

The second objective was to either kill or apprehend the militants. The third and final objective was issued by the Naval Intelligence, in which the SSG(N) were instructed to recover the bodies of militants to prevent further mutilation, in order to carry out the investigations. The complex, which the foreign advisers were held in, has a crew room, a lounge, a briefing room and a leisure room and small offices. The gang-leader, however, stayed in front of the building, taking a position on the ground. As the teams engaged, the leader went inside the building. A sniper on the rooftop began firing rounds at the SSG(N) teams, taking out men with the help of night vision equipment. The militant sniper also killed three naval firefighters and two Rangers, who were providing cover for naval firefighters, who were trying to get control of a fire on a P3C-Orion aircraft. The SSG(N) teams quickly targeted the sniper. The sniper was shot in the head and fell on the ground from the top of the complex.

According to Naval Intelligence, the militants were only targeting the aircraft and its crew who were unarmed, mostly pilots and officers. The SSG(N) teams provided the cover to the crew in a heavy exchange of fire while the crew took the aircraft to a safe place. The SSG(N) teams had pushed and forced the militants into retaliation, after SSG(N) took aggressive counter measure. The militants ran and hid in a complex near the airport. Unleashing RPG fire, they damaged several other aircraft, igniting blazes and setting off billowing columns of smoke. The jihadists held off Pakistani naval and army commandos for some 16 hours before finally being overwhelmed. At least 10 Pakistani soldiers were killed. After cordoning off the building and giving the warning to the terrorists to surrender, three SSG(N) personnel and two sailors tried to enter the building from the front door in a bid to engage the leader. A heavy exchange of fire ensued. The SSG(N) teams then entered the building to search for the rest of the attackers. The SSG(N) teams inside engaged in a room-to-room battle with two assailants equipped with AK-47s and hand-grenades. One of the attackers was shot in the head and killed instantly, which preventing him from blowing himself up. The other attacker was also hit, but he succeeded in blowing himself up. He had 17 bullet hits.

It was reported that ten Pakistan military personnel were killed and eleven wounded. The first SSG(N) team, under Lieutenant Abbase, entered the first floor of the complex, where Abbase’s team first secured and evacuated the 17 foreign military advisers and technicians who were providing training to the Pakistan Navy’s officials. The Navy reported that the SSG(N) teams successfully evacuated 11 PLA Air Force technicians and six USN military advisers, along with securing the other aircraft from further damage. After achieving the first core objectives, the SSG(N) teams made a contact with four militants on the first floor who came to learn about the foreign advisers. In a 15-minute-long battle, all of the four militants were disarmed and apprehended by the SSG(N). More than 30 SSG(N) teams entered and penetrated into the base. As the teams progressed, eight heavy explosions were heard inside the base in the space of 30 minutes. TTP claimed the responsibility of the attack. Reuters quoted the words of Ehsanullah Ehsan (the spokesperson of TTP) by telephone from an undisclosed location, “It was the revenge of martyrdom of Osama bin Laden. It was the proof that we are still united and powerful,”. The militants took control of the air traffic control tower but had not taken any hostages; the staff had escaped prior to the militants” seizing of the tower. The SSG(N) then entered one by one to take control over the tower, and after a two-hour-long battle, the SSG(N) took control of the tower with five wounded militants in custody. Navy reported that the death toll of its officers has risen to 10, of which nine were members of the Navy, one an Army Ranger. In all, it took approximately 16 hours to secure the base.

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