Insiders were involved in attack on Mehran base, committee told
ISLAMABAD: Defence officials informed a parliamentary committee on Wednesday that insiders were involved in the attack on the PNS Mehran base in Karachi, but said that responsibility could be fixed only after a joint team investigating the matter completed its work.
According to sources, the revelation was made during an in-camera meeting of the National Assembly’s standing committee on defence held at the Parliament House.
A handout issued by the NA Secretariat said four terrorists were involved in the May 22 attack on the base which lasted 17 hours.
Senior navy and air force officials who briefed the committee said the information was based on findings of an internal inquiry committee. The joint team is still carrying out its investigation, according to the handout.
Initially, there were discrepancies about the number of terrorists who had attacked the base. Interior Minster Rehman Malik had said they were six; four of them had been killed and two escaped. The FIR registered on May 24 said that between 10 and 12 terrorists had stormed the naval base; four of them had been killed and the rest escaped.
The ferocious attack left 13 people, including a young navy officer, dead and 16 others injured. The militants destroyed two P-3C Orion aircraft.
The standing committee decided to take up the matter again after the joint investigation team completed its work. The committee members called for making foolproof security of national assets and taking necessary measures for preventing such incidents in future.
Online adds: The committee was informed that as many as eight navy personnel had been taken into custody on charges of abetting the terrorists who had attacked the Mehran base and court martial proceedings could be initiated against them after completion of investigation.
A senior member of the committee said three officers, one sailor and four other personnel had allegedly assisted the terrorists in the attack.
He said the inquiry committee was of the opinion that the large quantity of arms and ammunition and rocket launchers used in the attack could not be taken to the base by the four terrorists without any inside support.
According to members of the investigation team, CCTV footages clearly showed that the terrorists were standing in front of the compound where 17 US and Chinese nationals were staying. However, the commandos had succeeded in taking them out of the compound moments before the attack.
The naval authorities concluded that it was impossible to carry out the attack without help from insiders. The terrorists had stayed for three to four days in a locality close to the naval base. Some locals have also been included in the investigation.
Members of the committee expressed reservations that a written briefing on investigation was not provided and asked the investigation team to provide copies of the inquiry report at the next meeting.
When contacted, navy spokesman Commodore Irfanul Haq expressed ignorance about the arrest of eight personnel and said he would not comment on the briefing given to the standing committee.