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Monday, May 30, 2011

Iraq’s Visa Madness

New NIC Guidelines for Foreign Workers in Iraq

Posted on 19 April 2011. Tags: National Investment Commission, NIC, visas

The National Investment Commission in Iraq has decided new regulations to decrease the use of foreign labor in Iraq, with the intention of providing more jobs for unemployed Iraqis.

The following points were released by the NIC on Tuesday to clarify those regulations:

1. The investor shall decide in advance the rate of the work force needed in his projects then clarifying the rate of the foreign labor, then the commission shall consider the rates and decide whether to grant a license or not.
2. The foreign labor should include a technical and skilled staff that is not available locally (according to investment law No.13 of 2006 and investment system No.2 of 2010).
3. The concerned commission shall send the requests and their documents to NIC, the latter will address the ministry of labour and social affairs/ labor and technical training directorate/ employment department, and send a list of the names of the foreign workers so as to prepare the required approvals for them.
4. Visa requests should be sent to NIC so as to address the related authorities.

===

Posted on 31 March 2011. Tags: Employment, jobs in Iraq, Unemployment, visas

Visa problems for foreign workers in Iraq continue to make the headlines.

Last week we reported on the difficulties caused by a decision to channel visa applications through the office of the Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki; now we hear that the Basra Investment Commission has imposed its own restrictions, with the intention of reducing unemployment.

While the restrictions do not appear to be limited to specific sectors or levels of employment, the main game in town is clearly oil and gas, and in this area there are many foreign workers whose expertise is required in Iraq.

But when we say ‘many foreign workers’, that is relative – in the context of an unemployment rate between 15% and 39% (depending on whose figures you choose to believe), the number of foreign experts who need to enter Iraq is trivial. While the energy sector accounts for as much as 90% of Iraq’s GDP, it employs only about 1% of the workforce, and the number of non-Iraqi experts required would be a very small fraction of this 1%.

It’s also worth noting that native Iraqi oil workers are the cheapest in the world, so companies would be inclined to employ them first, if they have the required skills.

If Iraq is to thrive, it must allow companies to bring in the talent they need to development the country’s biggest asset.

Your business in Iraq can benefit from the knowledge and experience of both Upper Quartile and AAIB. For more information please contact Gavin Jones or Adrian Shaw.

Massive forest fire halts work at oilsands site

By Brent Wittmeier, Postmedia News May 30, 2011 5:19 PM

Read more: http://www.edmontonjournal.com/health/Massive+forest+fire+halts+work+oilsands+site/4863749/story.html#ixzz1Nt6Fatey


Workers at Imperial Oil’s Kearl oilsands site say wildfires are only a few kilometres away.

EDMONTON — An enormous forest fire burning out of control has stopped work at Imperial's oilsands site north of Fort McMurray.

Duncan MacDonnell, a spokesman for Alberta Sustainable Resource Development, said 417 workers were fighting the fire Sunday. It covered 259,000 hectares about 65 kilometres north of Fort McMurray.

MacDonnell said workers were constructing a fire guard with heavy equipment.

The southeast portion of the fire has come within a few kilometres of Imperial Oil's Kearl Oil Sands site, about 43 kilometres north of Fort McMurray.

Company spokesman Pius Rolheiser said about 3,000 Kearl workers were held back at their Wapasu camp Monday morning because of concerns about air quality. The company made the same move twice last week when air conditions were bad.

"This is not an evacuation, but there is a temporary suspension of work at the main Kearl site," said Rolheiser.

As of Sunday, the southeastern edge of the fire was eight kilometres northwest from the plant site, Rolheiser said.

The work stoppage has caused concern among Kearl workers, who have been instructed to stay inside due to smoke.

One man, who works as a heavy machine operator at the site but is now in Edmonton, said Monday he's been getting texts and calls from co-workers at the camp since 5 a.m., raising concerns about air quality, evacuation plans and being stuck at the facility without pay. They are fearful of losing their jobs if they leave, he said.

"Everybody I've talked to this morning has big concerns," he said, asking his name not be used. "The fire is two kilometres away, and they're telling everyone it's OK."

When the worker flew out last week, he said the pilot had difficulty seeing the end of the runway, and it's only become worse since.

Imperial Oil insists its evacuation plan has been shared with the province, and the company continues to monitor air quality. On May 20, 400 to 500 workers were evacuated from a site 40 kilometres away at Imperial's river water intake point, said Rolheiser.

Occupational Health and Safety spokeswoman Sorcha Thomas said the province is aware of the situation at the Kearl site, and has not been made aware of any complaints from workers.

The worker said that during a work stoppage last week, Imperial threatened employees who wanted to leave.

"We were told explicitly that if we left the site, we would have to leave our ID" and the company would have assumed they had quit their jobs, said the worker. The company rescinded that order the next morning.

"That insinuation has been passed again — that you will have to leave your ID at the door," said the worker.

Rolheiser described the allegations that workers have been threatened as "rumour" and declined to comment.

bwittmeier@edmontonjournal.com

twitter.com/wittmeier
© Copyright (c) The Edmonton Journal

Read more: http://www.edmontonjournal.com/health/Massive+forest+fire+halts+work+oilsands+site/4863749/story.html#ixzz1Nt5gsUdr


=====


Nature's 'worst curveball' imperils fire-ravaged town

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The smouldering remains of houses in Slave Lake, Alberta, on Monday, May 16, 2011. (Ian Jackson THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The smouldering remains of houses in Slave Lake, Alberta, on Monday, May 16, 2011. (Ian Jackson THE CANADIAN PRESS)

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All that remains of a house in Slave Lake, Alta., on Monday, May 16, 2011 is a set of steps. (Ian Jackson / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

All that remains of a house in Slave Lake, Alta., on Monday, May 16, 2011 is a set of steps. (Ian Jackson / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

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Firefighters work on the smouldering remains of houses in Slave Lake, Alta., on Monday, May 16, 2011. (Ian Jackson / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Firefighters work on the smouldering remains of houses in Slave Lake, Alta., on Monday, May 16, 2011. (Ian Jackson / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

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The smouldering remains of houses are visible outside Slave Lake, Alta., Monday, May 16, 2011. A firestorm swept through the town of 7,000 destroying upwards of 30 percent of the buildings. (Ian Jackson / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

The smouldering remains of houses are visible outside Slave Lake, Alta., Monday, May 16, 2011. A firestorm swept through the town of 7,000 destroying upwards of 30 percent of the buildings. (Ian Jackson / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

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Smoke rises from the remains of houses outside Slave Lake, Alta., on Monday May 16, 2011. (Ian Jackson / CANADIAN PRESS)

Smoke rises from the remains of houses outside Slave Lake, Alta., on Monday May 16, 2011. (Ian Jackson / CANADIAN PRESS)

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A wildfire rages in Slave Lake, Alta., Monday, May 16, 2011.

A wildfire rages in Slave Lake, Alta., Monday, May 16, 2011. (Michael Leonard / MyNews.CTV.ca)

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Residents evacuate wildfires in Slave Lake, Alta. Monday, May 16, 2011. (Michael Leonard / MyNews)

Residents evacuate wildfires in Slave Lake, Alta. Monday, May 16, 2011. (Michael Leonard / MyNews.CTV.ca)

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A wildfire rages in Slave Lake, Alta., Monday, May 16, 2011. (Michael Leonard / MyNews)

A wildfire rages in Slave Lake, Alta., Monday, May 16, 2011. (Michael Leonard / MyNews.CTV.ca)

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Officials monitor a wildfire in Slave Lake, Alta., Monday, May 16, 2011. (Michael Leonard / MyNews)

Officials monitor a wildfire in Slave Lake, Alta., Monday, May 16, 2011. (Michael Leonard / MyNews.CTV.ca)

Updated: Mon May. 16 2011 20:53:44

CTV.ca News Staff

In what's been called the largest-ever mass evacuation in Alberta history, thousands of Slave Lake residents are waiting to learn if their homes have been destroyed by a wildfire that has razed much of the northern Alberta town.

At least 7,000 people have been forced from their homes, and fire crews are struggling against destructive flames fanned by high winds that threaten to do even more damage.

Alberta Premier Ed Stelmach visited the town on Monday and said that he has directed key agencies to meet the short-term needs of evacuees.

"This is probably the worst curve ball nature has ever thrown to us," the premier said.

Necessities like blankets and cots were being provided for locals forced from their homes, the premier said, and he added that makeshift hospitals would be set up in trailers in areas where people needed medical attention.

Stelmach said he had spoken to the prime minister, and the two leaders spoke about securing additional federal resources for fire victims.

Brian Hay was among the thousands of residents forced to flee Slave Lake on the weekend, after high winds pushed a raging wildfire straight into the town where some 7,000 people live.

A day after fleeing Slave Lake with his wife and two children, Hay has heard conflicting reports about his family home. One person told him his house has burned to the ground, another said it has so far survived the blaze.

"They say 40 per cent of the town has burned," Hay told CTV News Channel in a telephone interview from Boyle, Alta., on Monday.

Many prominent buildings are in ruins in Slave Lake, including the town hall, the local library and the main shopping mall.

Mayor Karina Pillay-Kinnee has confirmed that a government building has also been destroyed by fire and half the homes in the hardest-hit residential area have been damaged or destroyed.

But the full extent of the devastation will not be known until the blaze can be brought under control.

Local authorities first began battling two separate fires near Slave Lake on Saturday, to the east and south of the town. It was initially believed that the fires could be brought under control.

But a day later, officials called for an evacuation of Slave Lake after a raging fire ripped through the town, fuelled by high winds and dry conditions on the ground.

The Alberta Emergency Management Agency believes 95 per cent of Slave Lake residents have complied with the evacuation order. The RCMP is assisting the remaining residents in getting out.

Fire moved into town quickly

Hay said he was hosting a barbecue in the early hours of Sunday afternoon, but the danger of the approaching fire became quickly apparent as the day went on.

Evacuee Erin Olde said the scene in town was nearly apocalyptic as flames moved in and thousands tried to flee. Everything changed in an instant, as the flames just seemed to arrive without any notice or warning.

"It literally just came -- an hour later and everything in the southeast, where we live, was lost, gone."

As the flames approached, black embers and thick smoke were everywhere, she said.

"It was like snow. Ashes and embers were falling on the roof of our house."

The drive to Edmonton, which usually takes about three hours, took upwards of six hours because of bumper-to-bumper traffic

"It was hard to get out," she said.

CTV's Janet Dirks said that the situation remains very "volatile," with high winds whipping through the area and threatening to spread flames to other areas of the town.

Reporters were given a brief media tour of the carnage, and the level of total destruction is incredible in some parts of Slave Lake.

"It was quite shocking," said Dirks, noting that homes and neighbourhoods were completely wiped out. "You would never know that those residences were even residences."

Officials are now piecing together what exactly occurred, and premier Stelmach has said that nature threw a "curveball" during critical moments Sunday.

With winds topping 100 kilometres per hour, officials suspended water bombing because the swells on Slave Lake were too large to land safely and pick up water. But in the space of an hour, "all heck broke lose" as flames jumped into the town, said Dirks.

The Town of Slave Lake issued a mandatory evacuation order on Sunday, though some residents became confused about how they were supposed to get out of town as police shut down local highways for safety reasons.

A highway was later opened that allowed thousands of residents to escape their hometown and find accommodations between Slave Lake and Edmonton, which lies about 250 kilometres from where the wildfires were raging.

Authorities have not yet identified the cause of the wildfires in Slave Lake, though the weather conditions were cited as the major factor in the spread of the dangerous blazes.

"The weather conditions there are freakish -- the perfect conditions for a firestorm," said Duncan MacDonnell, a spokesperson for Alberta Sustainable Resource Development.

Ontario's Ministry of Natural Resources is sending 85 forest firefighters to help out in Alberta, though they are not expected to arrive until Tuesday afternoon. Firefighters from British Columbia are also making their way to Slave Lake.

Iraqi vice president resigns in sign of infighting

30 May 2011 16:22

Source: reuters // Reuters

* Resignation comes as govt under pressure to perform

* Unlikely to shake Maliki, but signals power struggle

(Recast with details on the post)

BAGHDAD, May 30 (Reuters) - One of Iraq's deputy presidents has stepped down, a top Shi'ite leader said on Monday, a sign of divisions in the coalition government formed by Shi'ite, Sunni and Kurdish factions.

Adel Abdul-Mahdi's resignation came as Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki fends off critics who say he has not delivered on power-sharing promises since forming a fragile multi-sectarian government in December after nine months of political deadlock.

Ammar al-Hakim, the leader of the Iranian-backed Supreme Islamic Iraqi Council (ISCI), said Abdul-Mahdi, a senior Shi'ite politician in ISCI, had presented his resignation but it had yet to be approved by President Jalal Talabani, a Kurd.

"We were supposed to present this resignation before, but the president was abroad, so once he came back the resignation was submitted to him," Hakim said.

Abdul-Mahdi, a Shi'ite, was one of three deputies appointed by parliament this month to the government led by Maliki.

Hakim said he hoped the resignation would prompt others to follow suit to reduce the size of the government. There have been divisions among the Shi'ite allies.

The vice president's post is largely symbolic as it carries no real power but it was a part of the power sharing deal between Iraq's political factions to form the government.

Abdul-Mahdi's departure is unlikely to pressure the coalition, which still has the backing of most other Shi'ite blocs in the government, including the powerful Sadrist bloc with 39 seats in parliament.

But it highlights increasing political wrangling in Iraq as U.S. troops prepare to withdraw by the end of the year.

Opposition leaders are already seeking to pressure Maliki, who faces a self-imposed early June deadline to show progress to Iraqis demanding much-needed basic services after years of war and violence.

More than eight years after the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein, Iraqis complain their governments have not done enough to resolve day-to-day problems such as supplying electricity and creating jobs.

The Sunni-backed Iraqiya alliance, led by former premier Iyad Allawi, also criticises Maliki for failing to form a national advisory body Allawi was meant to head and delaying the naming of key posts such as the defence and interior ministries.

Iraq was ravaged by sectarian violence unleashed by the invasion. Overall violence has dropped sharply from the dark days of sectarian slaughter in 2006-07, but attacks by Sunni Islamist insurgents and Shi'ite militia continue daily. (Reporting by Waleed Ibrahim; writing by Patrick Markey; editing by Rania El Gamal and Maria Golovnina)

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Gunmen kill Iraqi official who purged Saddam loyalists

26 May 2011 19:58

Source: reuters // Reuters

(Updates with details, sourcing, previous CAIRO)

BAGHDAD, May 26 (Reuters) - Gunmen on Thursday killed a senior Iraqi politician who helped purge members of Saddam Hussein's banned Baath party from politics in the latest of a wave of killings targeting politicians and officials.

Violence in Iraq has eased since the height of sectarian slaughter between Sunni and Shi'ite militias, but bombings and attacks continue daily. Local government officials, police and army officers are now often targeted for assassination.

Two gunmen using silenced weapons killed Ali al-Lami while he was driving his car in eastern Baghdad, security officials said.

"He was killed ... he was alone with his driver without any security," said Major-General Qassim al-Moussawi, Baghdad security operations spokesman.

Lami, a Shi'ite Muslim, played a key role in the de-Baathification committee that was formed after the 2003 U.S.-led invasion to ensure Baath party loyalists of Saddam did not return to power in the new government.

His efforts to ban Baathist candidates running in last year's March election risked fueling sectarian tensions after angering minority Sunnis who felt they were unfairly treated because some of their politicians were disqualified.

Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki formed a multi-sectarian coalition government in December after nine months of political wrangling following the inconclusive election results in March.

(Reporting by Baghdad newsroom; Editing by Angus MacSwan)

Roadside bomb kills eight U.S. troops in Afghanistan

26 May 2011 22:16

Source: reuters // Reuters

* Coalition deaths rise during Taliban "spring offensive"

* ISAF service member killed in helicopter crash (Recasts with identity of victims)

KABUL, May 26 (Reuters) - Eight U.S. troops were killed by a roadside bomb in southern Afghanistan on Thursday in the deadliest single attack on foreign forces in a month, the U.S. military said.

Afghan violence has surged in recent weeks as Taliban-led insurgents ramped up their long-expected "spring offensive."

U.S. commanders had warned a surge in violence was likely, with militants hitting back after NATO-led forces claimed parts of the insurgency's southern stronghold over the last year.

Thursday's bomb was the worst individual attack on foreign troops since eight U.S. service personnel and a U.S. contractor were shot dead by an Afghan air force pilot at a military airport in Kabul on April 27.

The Pentagon and NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in Afghanistan initially said seven troops were killed on Thursday, but later added that an eighth died.

Separately, another ISAF service member was killed earlier on Thursday when a helicopter crashed in eastern Afghanistan, the coalition said. The cause of that crash was under investigation.

The nearly decade-old war in Afghanistan is increasingly unpopular in the United States.

Of the roughly 2,480 foreign troops killed in Afghanistan since 2001, more than 1,580 have been U.S. nationals.

News of the latest killings came as lawmakers in Congress narrowly lost a vote that would have required U.S. President Barack Obama to start planning for an accelerated withdrawal.

Foreign troops are preparing to start a gradual reduction in forces from July, handing over lead security responsibility to Afghan forces by the end of 2014.

But critics of Obama's war strategy in Congress are calling for a faster drawdown, particularly in the wake of the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in neighboring Pakistan.

Civilian and military casualties reached record levels in 2010, the worst year of the war since U.S.-backed Afghan forces toppled the Taliban in 2001.

A total of 711 foreign troops were killed last year and 2011 is expected to follow a similar pattern, with casualty tolls rising during the spring and summer.

Almost 200 foreign troops have been killed in Afghanistan so far in 2011. (Reporting by Paul Tait in Kabul and Phil Stewart in Washington; Editing by Andrew Dobbie and Laura MacInnis)

===


Suicide bombers launch twin Afghanistan attacks

30 May 2011 11:16

Source: reuters // Reuters
RTR2N2SW

A general view shows the scene after suicide blasts near an Italian-run base in Herat May 30, 2011. REUTERS/Mohammad Shoib

By Jalil Ahmad

HERAT, Afghanistan, May 30 (Reuters) - Taliban insurgents led by suicide bombers launched attacks on an Italian military base and near a government building in the main city in Afghanistan's west on Monday, killing four people and wounding dozens, officials said.

The simultaneous attacks were launched in the centre of Herat, near a Transport Department building and bus stop, and outside the Italian base on the city's outskirts, Herat provincial police chief Sayed Aqa Saqib said.

Dawood Saba, the governor of Herat province, said a suicide bomber in a small truck blew himself up at the entrance of the Italian-run base and that between two and four other attackers were still fighting from within a building nearby.

Another senior police official, Ghulam Farooq, said 37 people were wounded in the attacks. All those killed and wounded were civilians, he said.

However, Reuters pictures taken at the base showed one serviceman in an Italian uniform bleeding from a head wound next to the rubble of a partially destroyed wall.

The attacks were especially worrying because normally peaceful Herat, near the border with Iran, is one of seven areas where a gradual handover of security responsibility from foreign forces to Afghans will begin in July.

That handover is part of a process that will lead to all foreign combat troops leaving Afghanistan by the end of 2014. Some U.S. lawmakers and analysts have questioned the wisdom of that timetable with violence still at such high levels.



Saqib said it appeared most of the dead and wounded were from the attack in the centre of the city.

Pictures taken outside the Italian-run base, which houses a joint civilian and military Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT), suggested the truck bomb had destroyed part of an outer wall, a gate and a guardhouse.

External damage was severe, with rows of burnt-out bicycles and cars, and the windows of shops shattered for some distance. Ambulances rushed people to the hospital.

Taliban spokesman Qari Yousuf Ahmadi said four suicide bombers launched the attacks, although the militant Islamists often exaggerate claims involving attacks against foreign and Afghan targets.

Italian troops form the bulk of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) in the area but there was no immediate confirmation of casualties from ISAF.

A spokesman for ISAF in Kabul said the force was aware of reports of the attack and was looking into them.



INSURGENTS HIT BACK

Violence has spiked across Afghanistan since the Taliban announced at the beginning of May the start of a spring offensive.

The Afghan government and security forces and foreign military targets have been singled out in increasingly bold assaults in cities across the country as militants attempt to show they retain to the capacity to launch major strikes.

On Saturday, the powerful chief of police for all of northern Afghanistan was among seven people killed in an attack in the main city of Takhar province. [ID:nL3E7GS06H]

Initial reports said that blast had been carried out by a suicide bomber dressed as an Afghan policeman but Afghanistan's intelligence agency, the National Directorate for Security (NDS), said on Monday that may not have been the case.

The NDS said in a statement subsequent investigations suggested explosives had been hidden in a corridor outside the Takhar governor's office and were detonated remotely.

U.S. commanders had warned to expect a surge in violence as insurgents attempted to hit back after U.S.-led ISAF troops and Afghan forces made major gains in operations in the Taliban heartland in the south over the past 12 months.

Italy has about 3,880 troops serving in Afghanistan, the majority of them in the west, making it the fifth-largest contributor to the NATO force.

(Additional reporting by Sharafuddin Sharafyar in HERAT and Hamid Shalizi in KABUL; Writing by Paul Tait; Editing by Sanjeev Miglani)

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dozens Of Countries Flock To Iraq

May 25, 2011 Leave a Comment
Source: Dinar Daddy’s Tidbits
URL: http://theiraqidinar.com/2011/05/25/dozens-of-countries-flock-to-iraq/


Posted on 24 May 2011. Tags: Baghdad, Industry & Trade, Investment

Just this week, we have seen a United Arab Emirates firm invest in a new Iraqi oil refinery, a German company discussing investing in Basram, and a Korean company building 25 power stations.

On top of that, there have been Iranian gas deals amd Saudi Arabian interest in Iraqi telecoms, plus both British and Turkish firms have been mentioned in the topic of new investment in Iraq.

It is not surprising, then, that the Iraqi Department of Trade is expecting even bigger things for the next Baghdad International Fair.
30 countries and 1,500 companies are expected to attend from around the world, the Ministry for Trade said. Learning its lessons from last year, the preparations for this year are to begin earlier

First Muslim Woman Lord Mayor installed in Britain

"I am looking forward to being a positive and active ambassador for this wonderful district," Naveeda Ikram told the BBC.

First Muslim Woman Lord Mayor installed in Britain(Ahlul Bayt News Agency) - "I am looking forward to being a positive and active ambassador for this wonderful district," Naveeda Ikram told the BBC.

"I'm keen to see more participation and better confidence from all communities in the democratic process."

Councilor Ikram was installed on Tuesday as the new lord mayor of Bradford. Chosen as the first Muslim woman for the post, Ikram is a Labour councilor for Little Horton since 2004.

A mother of three, Ikram, a former Deputy Lord Mayor, is one of the first Pakistan-born females in Britain to take on the leading civic role.

A psychology and sociology graduate, she was one of the only two Bradford councilors selected in 2007 to take part in a national course designed to identify future leaders.

The Muslim mayor is the co-founder of Bradford Unites in Disaster, an umbrella organization representing fundraising groups across Bradford. She is also a governor at Newby and Bankfoot primary schools in the district.

Though being the first Muslim to fill Bradford's mayoral post, Ikram is not the first British Muslim to serve in a high-profile public post.

In 2007, Labour MP Shahid Malik became the first British Muslim minister after he was named as a minister under Secretary of State for the Department for International Development (DFID).

Malik has also served as Justice Minister, Home Office Minister and most recently as Minister for Race, Faith and Community Cohesion.

Another Muslim MP, Sadiq Khan, was appointed in 2007 as a government assistant responsible for parliamentary affairs.

In the 2010 parliamentary elections, eight Muslims were elected as MPs in the House of Commons. Baroness Sayeeda Warsi, a British-born of Pakistani origin, is the first Muslim woman to serve in the British Cabinet as minister without portfolio.

Last November, Lutfur Rahman became the first elected Muslim mayor of the East London borough of Tower Hamlets.

Role Model

Ikram said it was "a great privilege" to be selected as Lord Mayor of Bradford.

"As a proud Bradfordian it’s a tremendous honor and privilege to be selected as the Lord Mayor of such a great, diverse and significant place as Bradford district," she said.

"Although we face some difficult times right now I believe that we have a great future and, over the coming year, I hope to play my part as an ambassador for all our communities in projecting a positive, forward looking image of the district."

Ikram's selection was seen as a boost for women's role in the political landscape.

"Unfortunately politics has a bad reputation with some things in Parliament viewed as an old boys’ approach," Val Slater, the Deputy Lord Mayor, told The Telegraph and Argus.

"So it’s important Naveeda and I are there as role models so we can show there’s a different approach to politics."

Councilor Slater, who was appointed as the Deputy Lord Mayor, said she and Ikram were determined to mark their year by showing the importance of women in politics.

"It’s really important to have women’s voices heard and women’s voices listened to," she said.

"I’m looking forward to engaging with a really wide cross-section of Bradford’s community and being a really good ambassador."

Britain is home to a sizable Muslim minority of nearly 2 million. The majority of the multi-ethnic minority has Indian, Bengali and Pakistani backgrounds.

End item/ 129

Men's finger length linked to risk of knee injury

25 May 2011 04:48

Source: reuters // Reuters

NEW YORK, May 25 (Reuters Life!) - "Manly" hands might signal an increased risk of suffering a knee injury, if one study is correct.

The study, which targeted more than 1,000 middle-aged and older U.S. adults and was published in Arthritis & Rheumatism, found a higher risk of knee injuries among men with a bigger discrepancy in the lengths of their index and ring fingers.

In general, men tend to have relatively short index fingers and longer ring fingers, while women show more equality in those two digits. A greater difference between the two fingers, whether in a man or a woman, is thought to reflect greater exposure to testosterone in the womb.
tes·tos·ter·one (tĕs-tŏs'tə-rōn')
n.
A white crystalline steroid hormone, C19H28O2, produced primarily in the testes and responsible for the development and maintenance of male secondary sex characteristics. It is also produced synthetically for use in medical treatment.

Ida Haugen of Diakonhjemmet Hospital in Oslo, Norway, and her team analyzed data on 1,020 U.S. adults aged 51 to 92 in Framingham, Massachusetts, focusing on their history of knee injuries and arthritis symptoms. They also looked at x-rays of subjects' hands and knees.

Overall, 28 percent of men and 23 percent of women said they'd had a knee injury that kept them off their feet for at least a few days.


The odds of having such an injury were 78 percent higher among the one-third of men with the biggest finger-length disparity, versus the one-third with the smallest discrepancy.

There was no link between finger length and knee injuries among women, nor was there a relationship between finger length and knee arthritis is men or women.

Some studies have linked the "male" finger pattern to higher aggression levels and athletic prowess, while others have tied the pattern to certain health conditions, including arthritis in the knee and hand.

No one knows why those links exist, but one theory is that early testosterone exposure is at play

The cartilage that cushions the joints is sensitive to testosterone, so it's possible that greater exposure to the hormone somehow makes the tissue more vulnerable to damage, wrote Haugen.
(A tough, elastic, fibrous connective tissue found in various parts of the body, such as the joints, outer ear, and larynx. A major constituent of the embryonic and young vertebrate skeleton, it is converted largely to bone with maturation.)

Since the finger pattern has been tied to aggression and sports skills, it's also possible that men with the pattern are more likely to be in situations where they could be injured.

So, should men with long ring fingers worry about their knees?

Probably not, researchers said. The risk of any one person suffering a knee injury or arthritis would depend much more on factors like age, physical activity and body weight. (Reporting by Reuters Health; editing by Elaine Lies)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Gunmen storm Pakistan's naval aviation base


More than 10 terrorists late Sunday attacked the PNS Mehran base on Shahrah-e-Faisal Road, Karachi. At least five people, including Navy and Rangers personnel died in the attack.Towering flames arose from inside the PNS Mehran compound.

Taliban said that the team of militants they sent into Karachi’s PNS Mehran naval base Sunday night had enough supplies to survive a three-day siege.

“They have enough ammunition and food and they can fight and survive for three days,” Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsa said.“

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the brazen attack on the base by 15-20 gunmen, saying it was to avenge the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on May 2, AFP reports.

“It was the revenge of martyrdom of Osama bin Laden. It wasthe proof that we are still united and powerful,” Ehsanullah Ehsan said.



Q+A Pakistan's Taliban - who are they, what can they do?

23 May 2011 05:32

Source: reuters // Reuters

ISLAMABAD, May 23 (Reuters) - Pakistani Taliban militants claimed responsibility on Monday for an attack on the headquarters of the naval air force, storming the base in the city of Karachi in their most brazen action since the killing of Osama bin Laden in a U.S. raid.

The Pakistan Taliban, which is allied with al Qaeda, said the attack was to avenge the al Qaeda leader's killing on May 2. Bin Laden was shot dead by U.S. special forces in a secret operation that Pakistan says breached its sovereignty.

A militant spokesman said the assault proved the group was still "united and powerful".

Following are some questions and answers about the Pakistani Taliban, their motives and capabilities.

WHO ARE THE PAKISTANI TALIBAN?

The militants are mostly ethnic Pashtuns from the semi-autonomous tribal belt along the Afghan border where Pakistan and the United States poured in weapons in the 1980s to support Islamist fighters, including bin Laden, battling Soviet forces in Afghanistan.

There are different Taliban factions in places such as North and South Waziristan, Bajaur and Mohmand, united under the Pakistani Taliban banner. They have links with the Afghan Taliban, most of whom are fellow Pashtuns although the Afghan militants do not attack in Pakistan.

The Pakistani Taliban have strong links with al Qaeda and militant factions from other parts of Pakistan, in particular Punjab province. Pakistani Taliban have been providing training and other support to outside militants, including Westerners, in their strongholds.

WHAT ARE THEY FIGHTING FOR?

They are vehemently opposed to Pakistan's alliance with the United States in the campaign against militancy launched after the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks. As Pakistan, under U.S. pressure, stepped up operations against militants on the Afghan border, Pakistani Taliban attacks on the security forces picked up.

They launched their war against Pakistan in earnest after security forces cleared gunmen from a radical mosque in the capital, Islamabad, in July 2007 with the loss of about 100 lives.

WHAT ARE THEIR METHODS

The militants have killed hundreds of pro-government Pashtun tribal leaders in the border lands, decimating traditional power networks through which the central government exerted control, and imposing their vision of Islamist rule.

While taking control of much of the tribal belt, the militants have repeatedly attacked the security forces in northwestern towns and cities with suicide bombers and ambushes. They have tried to expand their zones of influence and took control of the scenic Swat valley, northwest of Islamabad, before the military launched an offensive in 2009 to push them out.

WHAT ARE THEIR CAPABILITIES

The militants have shown time and again that they can inflict heavy casualties wherever they want and they have the capability to launch sophisticated assaults on prime targets at the heart of the security establishment.

Prior to Monday's attack on the naval force headquarters, they attacked the army's headquarters in the city of Rawalpindi and a nearby mosque where many officers were praying. They have blown up buses carrying staff of the main Inter-Services Intelligence agency to work in Rawalpindi and set off car bombs outside several offices of the ISI and other security agencies in various cities including Lahore.

They have attacked military and police training facilities, with suicide bombers and gunmen, in several places in the northwest. They have attacked numerous military camps and the country's main defence industry complex. They have set off bombs in mosques where their rivals were praying and numerous gatherings of rival tribal elders. They have attacked diplomatic missions, offices of the United Nations and aid groups, a visiting Sri Lankan cricket team and the shrines of moderate Sufis and members of rival sects.

The Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility for the assassination of numerous army officers over recent years and a Christian government minister this year. They were accused of killing former prime minister Benazir Bhutto in 2007, but they denied it.

WHAT IS THEIR REACH?

While their activities have been almost entirely confined to Pakistan, they have shown an interest in expanding their range under the banner of al Qaeda.

A suicide bombing at a U.S. base in Afghanistan's Khost province in 2009, carried out by a Jordanian national, killed seven Central Intelligence Agency employees. In video footage released after the attack, the bomber was shown sitting with Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud, a stark illustration of growing links between the Pakistani insurgents and foreign militants.

A Pakistani-born American who tried to set off a car bomb in New York's Times Square last year told a court he got bomb-making training and funding from the Pakistani Taliban. (Editing by Robert Birsel)











22 May 2011 21:00

Source: reuters // Reuters

View Larger Map


(Updates details, adds quote from Navy spokesman)

By Faisal Aziz

KARACHI, May 22 (Reuters) - Gunmen attacked Pakistan's naval aviation base on Sunday, starting fires, setting off explosions and fighting pitched gunbattles inside one of the country's most heavily guarded military installations.

Officials said at least four people had been killed in the attack on PNS Mehran in the southern city of Karachi.

Between 15 to 20 gunmen were inside and had attacked hangars housing aircraft, officials said. Witnesses said they could hear gunshots and see smoke rising from the base.

"They were equipped with sophisticated weapons," navy spokesman Commodore Irfan ul-Haq told Reuters.


Another spokesman said that one P-3C Orion, a maritime partrol aircraft, had been destroyed. "The attackers are still inside and intermittent firing is continuing."

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the militants had attacked from the rear of the base. "We have been able to confine them to one building and an operation is underway either to kill or capture them." The Karachi attack evoked memories of an assault on Pakistan's army headquarters in the town of Rawalpindi in 2009, and revived concerns that even the most well-guarded installations in the country remain vulnerable to militants.

Taliban militants, who have vowed to avenge the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden by U.S. special forces, have carried out several attacks since his death on May 2.

Officials said the gunmen had attacked three hangars housing aircraft. Nine explosions were reported from the base, with jet fuel tanks possibly catching fire and exploding. Almost three hours after the start of the attack, gunbattles between presumed militants and commandos continued.

A least a dozen ambulances were parked outside the base, waiting to take wounded to hospital. Pakistani military and paramilitary reinforcements were pouring in, with four vehicles carrying about 10 troops each moving into the base.

An intelligence official said four people had been killed and five wounded in the Karachi raid.

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani condemned the "terrorist" attack. "Such a cowardly act of terror could not deter the commitment of the government and people of Pakistan to fight terrorism," Gilani said in statement.

WAVE OF BOMBINGS

Pakistan has faced a wave of bombings and gun assaults over the last few years, some of them claimed by the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), or Pakistani Taliban.

Others have been blamed on al Qaeda-linked militant groups once nurtured by the Pakistani military which have since slipped out of control.

The discovery that bin Laden was living in the Pakistani garrison town of Abbottabad, not far from the Pakistan Military Academy, has also revived suspicions that militants may be receiving help from some people within the security establishment.

Pakistan and the United States say the senior leadership in the country did not know bin Laden was in Abbottabad.

On April 28, suspected militants detonated a roadside bomb in Karachi, killing four members of the navy, the third attack on the navy in a week.

The attack came two days after two bombs hit buses carrying navy personnel, killing four people and wounding 56. Taliban insurgents took responsibility for the twin attacks.

(Reporting by Zeeshan Haider, Kamran Haider and Imtiaz Shah; Writing by Myra MacDonald and Chris Allbritton; editing by Ralph Boulton)

(For more Reuters coverage of Pakistan, see: http://www.reuters.com/places/pakistan)

====


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— PHOTO: AFP Flames and smoke erupt from a Pakistan military air base in Karachi after an attack by militants on Sunday night. ISLAMABAD: Terrorists struck at the naval facility, PNS Mehran, in Karachi late on Sunday night. Multiple explosions were heard from inside the facility which is next to the.......

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Source country Hindu Monday, May 23, 2011 1:34:00 AM CEST | info More about this article...

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— PHOTO: AFP Flames and smoke erupt from a Pakistan military air base in Karachi after an attack by militants on Sunday night. ISLAMABAD: Terrorists struck at the naval facility, PNS Mehran, in Karachi late on Sunday night. Multiple explosions were heard from inside the facility which is next to the.......

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Islamist militants stormed a naval base in the Pakistani city of Karachi late Sunday, rocking the facility with fiery explosions and battling commandos dispatched to subdue them in one of the most brazen attacks in years, security officials said. At least two navy officers were injured and an.......

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Yousaf Raza Gillani said: "Such a cowardly act of terror could not deter the commitment of the government and people of Pakistan to fight terrorism,"

Gunmen attacked Pakistan's naval aviation base on Sunday, starting fires, setting off explosions and fighting pitched gun battles inside one of the country's most heavily guarded military installations....

Militants storm Pakistani navy base

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Militants attacked a naval aviation base in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi late Sunday, rocking the base with explosions and battling commandos sent in to subdue the attackers, security officials said....

Four Killed As Gunmen Attack Pakistan Base

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At least four people, including two Navy personnel, have been killed after gunmen attacked a military base in Pakistan....

Official: 2 killed after militants attack Pakistani naval air station

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At least 10 militants attacked a naval air station in the coastal city of Karachi late Sunday, leading to several explosions and an hourslong firefight with Pakistani forces that killed two naval officials, Pakistani officials and witnesses said....

Militants storm Pakistani navy base

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Islamist militants stormed a naval base in the Pakistani city of Karachi late Sunday, attacking a U.S.-supplied surveillance aircraft and battling commandos dispatched to subdue them in one of the most brazen attacks in......

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Two Pakistan Navy staff were killed in a militant attack on a naval air base in the country's biggest city of Karachi, where troops were locked in a battle with gunmen, a spokesman said....

Militants storm Pakistan naval air base, two dead

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Gunmen armed with rockets and explosives stormed a major Pakistani naval air base, triggering gunbattles that killed two navy staff on Monday three weeks after the US killing of Osama bin Laden....

Four killed as suspected militants raid Pakistani airbase

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Suspected militants raided a Navy airbase in Pakistan's southern port city of Karachi on Sunday, killing at least four people, a Naval spokesman said....

Gunmen attack Pakistani naval base

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Yousaf Raza Gillani said: "Such a cowardly act of terror could not deter the commitment of the government and people of Pakistan to fight terrorism,"

At least four killed as special forces continue to battle armed men who attacked naval aviation facility in Karachi....

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Explosions Rock Pakistan Naval Base

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Explosions rocked a Pakistani military base in the southern city of Karachi in a late-night terror attack, setting off a fire visible from miles away and sowing confusion in the crowded Arabian Sea port....

Tornadoes in Kansas Kill at Least One

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Entities: Luis Rodríguez[1]; José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero[3];

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A tornado swept through a small eastern Kansas town, killing one person and destroying at least 20 homes, authorities said early Sunday....

Pakistan base under attack

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Other categories: Terrorist Attack; Conflict;

ONE of Pakistan's main military bases, used by the navy and air force in Karachi, is under terrorist attack....


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مہران نیول بیس پر حملہ، کب اور کیسے

ریاض سہیل

بی بی سی اردو ڈاٹ کام، کراچی

ایبٹ آباد میں اسامہ بن لادن کی امریکی فوجی آپریشن میں ہلاکت، القاعدہ اور تحریک طالبان کی جانب سے بدلے کے اعلانات کے بعد یہ امکان اور خدشہ تو پہلے سے محسوس کیا جا رہا تھا کہ کراچی تخریب کاروں کے نشانے پر ضرور آئے مگر اس کے لیے اتوار کے دن اور رات کے وقت کا انتخاب مختلف تھا۔

اس سے قبل کراچی میں دہشت گردی کے اکثر واقعات اور دھماکے صبح یا دوپہر کے وقت رونما ہوتے رہے ہیں۔

اتوار کی رات کو تقریبا گیارہ بجے کے قریب دھماکوں کے بعد شاہراہ فیصل پر سفر کرتے ہوئے دھویں کے سیاہ بادل دور سے ہی نظر آرہے تھے قریب پہنچ کر آگ کے شعلے بھی دکھائی دیے مگر یہ سب کچھ ایک چار دیواری کے اندر ہو رہا تھا جہاں میڈیا کو جانے کی اجازت نہیں تھی۔

پاکستان کے فوجی ایریا ویسے ہی علاقہ ممنوعہ ہیں جہاں فوٹو گرافی اور ویڈیو بنانے کی اجازت نہیں ہوتی۔ ایسے واقعات کے بعد قوانین اور اس کا نفاذ کرنے والا دونوں ہی سخت ہوجاتے ہیں۔

شہری حکومت کی جانب سے نصب کلوز سرکٹ کیمروں میں تین جگہوں سے دھواں اٹھتا ہوا دیکھا گیا۔ جس کے بعد فائر برگیڈ کی گاڑیاں اور فلاحی اداروں کی ایمبولینسوں کی ایک بڑی تعداد جائے وقوع پر پہنچ گئی مگر انہیں بھی اندر جانے کی اجازت نہیں مل سکی۔

اس عرصے میں کئی پولیس افسر اور تفتیتشی ادارے پہنچ گئے مگر فورسز نے یہ کارروائی خود کرنے کا فیصلہ کیا بعد میں چند پولیس افسروں کو مرکزی گیٹ سے داخلے کی اجازت مل گئی کچھ واپس چلے گئے۔

ایئر پورٹ سے شہر کی جانب آتے ہوئے پی ایف میوزیم سے لیکر کارساز تک ایمبولینس کی ایک بڑی قطار لگی ہوئی تھی جن کے سائرن اور سرخ بتیاں ماحول کو اور بھی پراسرار بنا رہی تھیں۔ایسا لگ رہا تھا کہ وہ ریلوے سٹیشن کے قلی کی طرح اپنی خدمت کی پیشکش کر رہی ہیں مگر کوئی ان کی نہیں سن رہا تھا ۔

ٹی وی چینلز کی ڈی ایس این جیز بھی تیزی کے ساتھ جائے وقوع پر پہنچیں عملے نے کمال پھرتی سے تاریں لگا کر کیمرہ سیٹ کیے۔ کچھ نے گاڑیوں کے چھت پر کیمرہ لگا کر چار دیواری کے اندر جھانکنے کی کوشش کی مگر تاریکی میں زیادہ کامیابی حاصل نہیں ہوئی تاہم فضا میں اٹھتا ہوا دھواں اور بھڑکتے ہوئے شعلے ضرور کیمرے کی آنکھ نے کیچ کرلیے۔

رپورٹرز موبائیل ٹیلیفون پر اپنے دفاتر کو ہر فائر اور دھماکے سے اپ ڈیٹ کرتے رہے۔ کبھی کبھار فائرنگ کی آواز قریب سنائی دیتی اور سب لوگ زمین پر لیٹ جاتے، شاید اسی مشق نے ان کی آنکھوں سے نیند اڑا لی تھی۔

میوزیم کے داخلی راستے پر پاکستان فضائیہ نے ایک ناکارہ طیارہ کھڑا کر رکھا ہے کہاجاتا ہے کہ چند گولیاں اس سے بھی آٹکرائیں۔

شہر کی مصروف سڑک شاہراہ فیصل ایئرپورٹ اور قومی شاہراہ دونوں کو ملاتی ہے، دھماکوں کے بعد سڑک کو ایک طرف سے ٹریفک کے لیے مکمل طور پر بند کردیا گیا تھا فیصل ایئر بیس کے قریب سے ریلوے لائین بھی گذرتی ہے جہاں سے ٹرین اپنے معمول کے مطابق چلتی رہیں تاہم ان کی بتیاں بند تھیں۔

سعودی عرب کے حکمران شاہ فیصل کے نام سے بنی ہوئی اس شاہراہ فیصل نے پچھلے چند سالوں میں کافی مقبولیت حاصل کی ہے۔ بارہ مئی دو ہزار سات کو یہاں ہنگامہ آرائی اور جلوسوں پر حملہ ہوئے۔ اسی اٹھارہ اکتوبر کو بینظیر بھٹو کے استقبالیہ قافلے کو کارساز کے مقام پر نشانہ بنایا گیا پچھلے ماہ بحریہ کی بس پر بھی اسی علاقے میں حملہ کیا گیا تھا۔

سورج طلوع ہوچکا ہے، مگر ابھی بھی حقائق پر دھند پڑی ہوئی ہے، سارا ایکشن چار دیواری کے اندر جاری ہے اور باہر صحافی تفصیلات جاننے لے لیے بے تاب ہیں۔

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Brazen attack: Terrorists storm Pakistan Navy base
By Faraz Khan / Salman Siddiqui
Published: May 23, 2011

Flames erupt from a P3C-Orion aircraft at the Pakistan Navy aviation base Mehran in Karachi after a terrorist attack. PHOTO: AFP
KARACHI:

Heavily-armed terrorists mounted a brazen attack on a Pakistan Navy installation adjacent to the Sharae Faisal on Sunday, killing at least four people, officials said, the fourth such attack on a heavily-guarded navy installation in the last four weeks.

Director-general public relations Pakistan Navy Irfanul Haq said that terrorists mounted simultaneous attacks on the base from the Main Gate, which is also called the Faisal Gate, the Museum Gate or the rear gate, and another vulnerable spot from the Shah Faisal Colony side.

He said they fired a number of rockets upon entering the base, one of which hit a hanger housing a P3C-Orion maritime surveillance aircraft which caught fire. He said that no other aircraft had been damaged, but other sources said that at least three P3C-Orion had been damaged. Besides the P3C planes, there were also Fokker, Defender and helicopters at the base.

However, Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the militants had attacked from the rear of the base.

“We have been able to confine them to one building and an operation is underway either to kill or capture them.”

According to navy spokesperson Commander Salman, navy commandos and Marines were carrying out action against the terrorists. He said that the outer cordon was being mounted by Rangers personnel.

Haq confirmed four casualties in the attack and identified two of the deceased as Fireman Khalilur Rehman and Lieutenant Yasir.

Commander Salman Ali said: “An exchange of fire with terrorists is continuing. Their firing is fading away and we have launched a search operation.”

“It’s a terrorist attack. More than 10 terrorists are inside. They have attacked a navy air station located in a Pakistan Air Force base,” said Sindh home ministry official Sharfuddin Memon.

Eyewitnesses said that some of the terrorists arrived in three black-colored vehicles.

There were reports that some foreigners, presumably Americans, had been targeted in the attack, but the navy spokesperson denied these reports. Smoke and flames were seen rising from at least five spots, one of which was near a fuel depot.

An AFP photographer said he heard up to 10 blasts and periodic bursts of gunfire.

Army commandos in five or six trucks were also seen entering the base, while several vehicles of Rangers had also reached the spot.

Police, it is learnt, were not allowed to enter the base.

Official sources said that some of the terrorists had taken hostages and were engaged in a fierce firefight with the security forces.

They added that between 15 and 20 attackers were inside the base, and had attacked three hangars housing aircraft.

Al Qaeda-led Taliban militants, who have vowed to avenge the killing of their leader Osama bin Laden by US special forces, have carried out several attacks since his death on May 2.

The latest attack evoked memories of an assault on Pakistan Army headquarters in Rawalpindi in 2009, and revived concerns that even the most well-guarded institutions in the country remain vulnerable to militants.

The attack comes about four weeks after twin bombs hit buses carrying navy personnel, killing four people and wounding 56.

There have been no immediate claims of responsibility for the latest attack though.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani immediately sent the interior minister to Karachi to “coordinate the security efforts being taken by the civil and military officials,” his office said in a statement.

President Asif Ali Zardari also condemned the terrorist attack at PNS Mehran in Karachi.

He said such cowardly acts would not deter the country from fighting terrorism.

The standoff between the terrorists and navy commandos continued until the filing of this report.

Published in The Express Tribune, May 23rd, 2011.

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Navy says PNS base under control after attack
By Ahmed Jung / Faraz Khan / Jahanzaib Haque
Published: May 23, 2011

Soldiers arrive for a military operation against militants at Pakistan's naval air base following an attack by militants in Karachi. PHOTO: AFP
Screen capture of a terrorist wounded/killed in the attack, shown by Interior Minister Rehman Malik. Pakistani soldiers arrive for an operation against militants at a major Pakistani naval air base following an attack by militants in Karachi on May 23, 2011. PHOTO: AFP. Soldiers arrive for an operation against militants at a major Pakistani naval air base following an attack by militants in Karachi. PHOTO: AFP Wreckage of a P-3C Orion aircraft is seen at a major Pakistani naval air base following an attack by militants in Karachi. PHOTO: AFP Wreckage of a P-3C Orion aircraft is seen at a the naval air base following an attack by militants in Karachi on May 23, 2011. PHOTO: AFP Wreckage of a P-3C Orion aircraft is seen at a the naval air base following an attack by militants in Karachi on May 23, 2011. PHOTO: AFP Soldiers arrive for a military operation against militants at Pakistan's naval air base following an attack by militants in Karachi. PHOTO: AFP Pakistan army helicopter flies over Pakistan's naval air base during an operation against militants following an attack in Karachi. PHOTO: AFP Soldiers arrive for a military operation against militants at Pakistan's naval air base following an attack by militants in Karachi. PHOTO: AFP Ambulances gather outside the PAF base. PHOTO: AFP Flames and smokes belches out from a Pakistani military air base after an attack by militants, in Karachi early on May 23, 2011. PHOTO: AFP Flames and smokes belches out from a Pakistani military air base after an attack by militants in Karachi on May 22, 2011. PHOTO: AFP Flames and smokes erupt from a Pakistan's military air base following an attack by militants in Karachi on May 22, 2011. PHOTO: AFP More than 10 militants late May 22 attacked one of Pakistan's main military bases, used by the navy and air force in Karachi, the country's biggest city. PHOTO: AFP Ambulances arrive outside Pakistan military air base after an attack by militants in Karachi on May 22, 2011. PHOTO: AFP Pakistani troops arrive at Pakistan' military air base after an attack by militants in Karachi on May 22, 2011. PHOTO: AFP Screen capture of the PAF base on fire.

KARACHI: A spokesman for Pakistan’s Navy said Monday that the PNS Mehran base in Karachi was back under control, 17 hours after militants attacked with guns, bombs and rockets.

In an ongoing operation at one of Pakistan’s main military bases, security forces are engaged in a battle against militants who stormed the base late Sunday night. At least 15 security officials have been killed in the operation that continues on Monday morning.

More than 10 terrorists late Sunday attacked the PNS Mehran base on Shahrah-e-Faisal Road, Karachi. At least 15 people, including Navy and Rangers personnel died in the attack.

Towering flames arose from inside the PNS Mehran compound throughout the night.

End of live updates

3:50 pm

Pakistan Navy official said several terrorists have been killed but did not confirm the number. The bodies have been shifted to an unknown location.

3:40 pm

The Pakistan navy has issued an official statement that the operation to kill or capture terrorists who had taken over the compound is over.

Spokesperson added that all the naval assets at PNS Mehran have been secured.

3:20 pm

Express 24/7 correspondent Shaheryar Mirza reports that Interior Minister Rehman Malik who was expected to talk to the press, has left the navy base without making any comment.

3:10 pm

There were about 30 to 40 journalists gathering outside, with seven satellite dishes attached to their trucks.

Helicopters buzzed overhead and the main road outside was closed to traffic. Moin Babar, 35, a technical engineer, said people were trying to understand how the militants made it inside.

“I heard that 15 went in through a sewer,” he said.

Kamran Khalil, 48, a civil engineer, suggested, like many others, a conspiracy. “How can this happen? It’s taking them so long to resolve the issue. India or the CIA could have been behind this. They want to show that Pakistan forces are ineffective.”

Many in Pakistan were furious with the US operation to kill bin Laden without sharing any intelligence beforehand with Islamabad, which they saw as a severe breach of sovereignty.

“This is all a reaction to American policy in Pakistan,” said Atif Ali, a 30-year-old construction worker.

3:00 pm

As troops wound down their assault, some Karachi residents said they could not believe security could have been so lax, Reuters reports.

“If these people can just enter a military base like this,then how can any Pakistani feel safe?” asked Mazhar Iqbal, 28, engineering company administrator taking a lunch break in the shade outside the complex where a crowd had gathered.

“The government and the army are just corrupt. We need newleaders with a vision for Pakistan.”

2:50 pm

Talking to Express 24/7 Brigadier Ghazanfar Ali said that the terrorists had a mechanism in place for targetted attacks on naval assets.

“This attack is possible without inside help, but the possibility cannot be ruled out,” he said.

He added that if taken alive, these terrorists can give valuable information on the groups they are affiliated with.

“There agenda is that Pakistan should be destabilizsed. The message being sent out is that Pakistan nuclear assets are not safe” he said.

Twitter update:

marvisirmed My blood boils.wnt 2 hold gun now. My ppl, my jawaans-all becoming fodder of…dont U dare defend Taliban & AlQaida



kaalakawaa If you think that the attacks are being carried out by CIA/RAW how would pulling out of the War / ending drones end them?



sharmeenochinoy This is the first time #Taliban have attacked military Aircrafts or hardware in #Pakistan- shift in strategy? #karachiattacks



2:30 pm

Tribune reporter Mahnoor Sherazee says the martyred navy officials and injured have been shifted to PNS Shifa and PNS Rahat hospitals. She reports that journalists are not allowed to enter the building.

2:00 pm

The operation to regain control of the Karachi naval base assaulted by Taliban militants has been completed after almost 16 hours of fighting with up to 20 assailants holed up in a building, a security official told Reuters from inside the base.

“The operation is over. The main building has been cleared,” the official said. “For precaution, we are continuing search around for any more terrorists but the main operation is over.”

1:25 pm

Talking to Express 24/7, retired Air Commodore Jamal Hussain said security officials will not announce that operation is complete “till they are absolutely certain the compound is secure.”

“Even if they suspect that one militant is at large, they will not announce that it is over,” he said.

1:05 pm

Express 24/7 correspondent Mirza says the operation has drawn to a close after 14 hours. One helicopter is still circling the area for surveillance purposes.

12:45 pm

The naval officer shot dead at PNS last night was identified as Lt Syed Yaser Abbas, son or (R) Col Syed Jaffar Abbas. His picture can be viewed here.

Twitter update:

mirza9 Navy officials that left earlier have come back to the #pnsmehran . BMW with four stars on the license plates – can someone ID?

abidhussayn @Razarumi After attack on CID and Abdullah Shah Ghazi, this was first major incident.

Razarumi #Karachi is the base 4 Al-Qaeda. its operatives & leadership tiers live thr. Causing mayhem in the port city is vital 4 Al-Qaeda

12:40 pm

Naval Chief Admiral Nauman Bashir arrives at PNS Mehran base.

Security forces are in the final stage of ending an hours-long siege by Taliban militants of a naval airbase, security officials said on Monday.

“The operation has not finished yet, but is nearing an end,”one security official said. “It’s in the final stages.”

12: 20 pm

Interior Minister Rehman Malik has arrived at the navy base and will brief the media once he is given details of the operation.

“A major area has been cleared,” Malik told reporters. “The sweeping process is continuing.”

Express 24/7 correspondent Shaheryar Mirza reports that high ranking navy officials have left the area, an indication that the operation may be over.

12:15 pm

Talking to Express 24/7, security analyst Ikram Sehgal said “Today the Pakistan Navy is blind; its eyes and ears are gone,” adding that anti-sub capability, electronic intelligence capability, radar capability are all gone.

“We can equate this situation to 9/11. It is a very grave situation,” said Sehgal, adding that neighbouring countries may be involved in planning this attack.

11:25 am

Talking to Express 24/7, Naval spokesperson Irfanul Haq said the operation is underway and security officials are working hard to minimise casualties and damage to naval assets.

Haq confirmed that 12 navy officials have been martyred and 14 injured

11:05 am

Prime minister Yousaf Raza Gilani has phoned Navy chief to dicuss the ongoing operation.

Navy official says officials are “taking maximum care” so as to preserve naval assets.

10:50 am

Ambulances and security vehicles are rushing to the navy base once again.

Two firemen have reportedly been killed in the operation.

“A (single-storey) building in the premises is still under their occupation from where they are exchanging fire with our soldiers,” Interior Minister Rehman Malik told AFP.

10:40 am

Firefight resumes at navy base after 30-minute pause. Security forces are engaged in operation to capture militants alive. Loud shots heard in the vicinity, indicate heavy battle underway at navy base.

Express 24/7 correspondent Ahmed Jung reports that half of the navy base has been secured by security officials and militants have been restricted to one building.

10:30 am

Navy chief says the operation is “heading in the right direction and the situation will be reverted very soon.”

No sounds of gunfire or explosions heard near navy base.

10:25 am

Express 24/7 correspondent Shaheryar Mirza reports taht 30 Frontier Constabulary officials have arrived at the site. About 200 SSG commandos and rangers are deployed as back-up for the operation.

Mirza adds that there is no official word from the armed forces and police and intelligence officials do not have details on the ongoing operation.

10:20 am

The navy base under attack is 15 miles (24 km) from the Masroor Air Base, Pakistan’s largest and a possible depot for nuclear weapons.

“They (militants) were carrying guns, rocket-propelled grenades (RPG) and hand grenades. They hit the aircraft with an RPG,” Navy spokesman Commander Salman Ali said of the militants.

10:15 am

Talking to Express 24/7, defence analyst Lt Gen (R) Talat Masood said that the militants had sent out a clear message to Pakistani security forces.

“They want to weaken the security insitutions one by one,” he said, adding that the attack was planned with precision.

“They are growing more and more powerful. The state is getting weaker and more helpless.”
10:10 am

Express 24/7 correspondent Shaheryar Mirza reports that sounds of gunfire and explosions have halted, however it is not clear if this signals the end of the operation.

“There is complete silence in the area, but this could be a delaying tactic,” said Mirza.

10:00 am

Express 24/7 correspondent Shaheryar Mirza reports that a man has been arrested from the area due to suspicious activity.

The man was reportedly viewing the ongoing operation through binoculars from a high point.

Twitter update:

sharmeenochinoy TTP soldier tells me our training is better than your military because v are ready 2 die #karachiattacks #Pakistan

madihariaz Don’t want to watch the news, can’t stay away either.

9:50 am

Express 24/7 reporter Ahmed Jung confirms that sophisticated LMG rifles, rocket launchers and Russian hand grenades have been used by the militants in the ongoing battle. The terrorists were dressed in black clothes.

Sources say 6 terrorists have been killed, however their bodies have not been dragged out of the base.

9:40 am

Taliban said that the team of militants they sent into Karachi’s PNS Mehran naval base Sunday night had enough supplies to survive a three-day siege.

“They have enough ammunition and food and they can fight andsurvive for three days,” Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told Reuters.

9:35 am

Two P3C Orion aircrafts have reportedly been destroyed by militants in the attack.

9:25 am

Express 24/7 reporter Ahmed Jung says 26 have explosions have so far taken place at the navy base in the last 12 hours.

Two helicopters are circling the military base in the ongoing operation, and security forces are trying to capture terrorists alive in order to interrogate them.

“Security forces want to know how the militants could enter a base where security is so strict that not even a camera is allowed inside,” says Jung.

9:20 am

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the brazen attack on the base by 15-20 gunmen, saying it was to avenge the killing of al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on May 2, AFP reports.

“It was the revenge of martyrdom of Osama bin Laden. It wasthe proof that we are still united and powerful,” Ehsanullah Ehsan told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.

3:15am

Navy spokesman confirms five people have been killed in the attack — four Navy personnel and one Rangers personnel.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik has arrived in Karachi.

2:52am

A few minutes back massive gunfire forced media personnel to lie down on the ground, reports Ahmed Jung. Fire is still erupting from the spot.

The gun battle has lasted 5 hours.

The Shah Faisal colony drain line leads to a small wall, which allows entrance into the base, says Jung. This was the likely route the terrorists took.

2:24am

An official speaking on condition of anonymity says at least 4-5 terrorists have been shot dead, but the aim of the operation is to catch the militants alive.

Fire has erupted again as fire fighters paused efforts due to an on going gun battle.

Heavy gunfire is ongoing at PNS Mehran, confirms Express 24/7 reporter Ahmed Jung.

2:15am

Confirmed reports that Lieutenant Yasir and a fireman, Khalilur Rehman have been killed in the line of duty.

2:05am

The fires on the PAF base have been completely extinguished, confirms Express 24/7 reporter Ahmed Jung.

Shah Faisal number 5 area sewerage line was used to enter PNS Mehran, say sources on-ground.

“They were equipped with sophisticated weapons,” navy spokesman Commodore Irfanul Haq told Reuters.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik said the militants had attacked from the rear of the base. “We have been able to confine them to one building and an operation is underway either to kill or capture them.”

The Karachi attack evoked memories of an assault on Pakistan’s Army headquarters in the town of Rawalpindi in 2009, and revived concerns that even the most well-guarded installations in the country remain vulnerable.

1:50am

Terrorists used a sewerage line behind the PNS Mehran to enter the base, unconfirmed reports suggest. Rangers have been deployed at the entrance of the line.

Law enforcement agencies from many towns have been called in to surround the entire base to ensure the terrorists do not escape, confirms Express 24/7 reporter Ahmed Jung.

1:38pm

Ahmed Jung reports that oil tankers exploding due to the fire are the likely cause for the recent blasts on the base.

Emergency services are confirming at least one death in the attack.

It is expected the search operation will continue till daylight as the base is kilometres long.

1:24am

Director General PR, Pakistan Navy, Irfanul Haq has confirmed two injuries — one sailor and one officer, both of whom are in critical condition. No foreigner has been killed in the attack, he says. Haq also confirms damage to one P3 Orion aircraft.

Another Navy source say the terrorists stormed the base with rockets, attack the P3 Orion and then snuck in further during the fire caused by the plane. The fire also spread to two other planes in the hangar.

1:15am

A 10th explosion has been reported on the PAF base by Tribune reporter Faraz Khan.

President Asif Ali Zardari has condemned the attack.

Twitter response:

fispahani RT @Ali_Abbas_Zaidi: I repeat: This comes directly from victims. Blood needed in PNS Rahat

OmarWaraich PNS Mehran received two P-3C Orions from the US in June 2010:http://1.usa.gov/mFZ6gK

1:10am

CID police and Army personnel were inside for an hour, however, CID officials are exiting says Ahmed Jung reporting for Express 24/7.

As yet, only fire brigades have been let inside.

The identities of the alleged four dead in the attack have not been confirmed.

12:58am

Tribune reporter Faraz Khan reports another blast in the PAF compound.

Pakistan Navy Spokesman confirms there are no casualties and only two people have been injured so far. He has confirmed that the P3 Orion aircraft was attacked.

Navy depot and a godown was attacked as well, say initial reports.

Firing is continuing inside the PAF base.

The fire in the compound has died down substantially.

DG PR Navy Irfanul Haq also confirms two injuries in the attack.

Twitter response:

OmarWaraich The fire’s wild. Thick plumes of black smoke stretching across the Karachi sky

mosharrafzaidi Not really too interested in empathy from abroad. I am interested in answers from within Pakistan.

SWarisShah People should stop discouraging our army and intelligence and start praying.. they are risking their life for us.

12:50am

Fire has spread to three locations confirms Ahmed Jung reporting for Express 24/7. Fire is still visible where the terrorists first attacked.

Special forces including Army personnel and CID police have arrived to fight the terrorists inside the base.

Earlier reports that Americans were present when terrorists targeted P3C Orion plane have been refuted by a US Embassy spokesman.

12:49am

Terrorists entered from the back of the base, say sources. They had information regarding what aircrafts were inside. The attack was well planned.

Twitter response:

husainhaqqani R prayers & support for victims of today’s tragedy at PNS Mehran. R resolve 2 defeat terrorists must endure

mirza9 If there was no inside help on getting militants inside, they had to be given intel on the plane,location and maintenance schedule. #karachi

cyalm I’d rather have the delusional Rapture folks than the delusional folks here who can’t see the enemy within

12:28am

Terrorists used rockets in the attack confirm reports.

Firing is continuing inside the base sporadically, says Tribune reporter Faraz Khan. However, he says there has been no new blasts as reported elsewhere in the media.

Army commandos are on the spot.

Twitter response:

AdilNajam Situation ongoing. Coordinated attacks already being called “Mumbai-style” some suspect there may be hostages…

needroos Respect to all security personnel, military, rangers, police, ambulance and firefighters facing the ongoing #Karachi attack

12:18am

Sources say that the initial target of the terrorists was the P3C Orion plane. The plane has reportedly been destroyed.

“This plane acts as the eyes and ears of the Pakistan Navy” says security analyst, Ikram Sehgal. The plane functions as a form of radar.

AFP updates — “It’s a terrorist attack. More than 10 terrorists are inside. They have attacked a navy air station located in a Pakistan Air Force base,” said provincial home ministry official Sharfuddin Memon.

“One of the four aircraft inside the premises has been damaged,” he added.

12:09am

American teams were working on the plane which came under attack.

P3C Orion is the name of the plane. It is a four-engine turboprop anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft.

Twitter response:

beenasarwar @thekarachikid Easy to blame govt, when it’s the security establishment that needs to change paradigm, & strategy.

sharmeenochinoy Just spoke 2 ppl on sharae Faisal still blocked- ppl being advised to go thru alternate routes #karachiattacks

Razarumi Vulnerabilities of Pakistani security agencies being exploited by terrorists. What a shame! #Pakistan v@ShabbirShah

12:05am

Ahmed Jung reporting for Express 24/7 a hunt for terrorists is on going inside the base. Fire fighters have managed to get the fire under control.

A specific plane inside the base may have been a target.

11:55pm

At least four members of the PAF have been reportedly killed in the attack, says Ahmed Jung from Express 24/7. The Interior Ministry reported this casualty figure to the Chief Minister house.

However, no emergency vehicles have gone into the base.

Emergency has been announced in all Karachi hospitals.

11:50pm

CCTV cameras are monitoring the situation inside — it is confirmed that terrorists are inside and they have targeted PNS Mehran and PNS Faisal, says Faraz Khan reporting for The Express Tribune.

Four to five spots have been targeted within.

It is also possible a hangar and a navy depot has been targeted.

ISPR’s Major General Athar Abbas has confirmed there is an attack ongoing inside.

For previous attacks on Pakistan Navy within Karachi click here and here.

Twitter response:

mosharrafzaidi RT @javeednusrat: dependable source insists attack started w rocket fires & not bombs. has all the appearances of a well-drilled out attack.

beenasarwar #CPLC sources @Rezhasan: Samaa News channel: 4 security personnel killed in attack on airbase

faizanlakhani @tammyhaq third attack on Pakistan Navy in one month

11:45pm

Media and emergency services have not been allowed to enter the base so far. Only fire brigades have been let in.

Earlier this month in Karachi, the Navy had come under attack, with multiple bombs targeting buses.

11: 34pm

Rangers, wing commander’s vehicle and up to five other cars have have gone inside the burning base.

The attack is specifically targetting PNS Mehran, confirms Faraz Khan reporting for Tribune.

Interior Minister Rehman Malik has confirmed that this is a terrorist attack.

Twitter response:

thekarachikid There’s a 9/11, 26/11 and 7/7. Then there’s everyday in Pakistan.

ammaryasir 5 injured includes one foreigner, probably a Chinese.

faizanlakhani complete blackout in base Faisal and Mehran

11:30pm

Pakistan Navy is trying to put out the fire inside the base. Interior Minister Rehman Malik has confirmed that this is a terrorist attack.

11:26pm

Sporadic fire is continuing at the PAF base says Ahmed Jung reporting for Express 24/7.

The first fire rescue team has reached the spot.

Twitter response:

sharmeenochinoy This naval aviation base v sensitive area- how can terrorists enter this area- serious lapse of security #karachi

faisalkapadia People of #karachi we are under attack we must “unite” and not panic! Please stay calm we are togather in this. #mehran

AtikaRehman 4 dead, others injured according to Dunya TV #Karachi PAF explosion

11:20pm

Terrorists entered the base and there is an encounter on going report eye witnesses in the area say.

The Express Tribune correspondent Faraz Khan reports that hand grenades are likely being used according to the sounds from within the base.

There are reports of upto 6-12 terrorists inside the compound. Media standing about 2 kilometres from the blast site.

11:15pm

Reports are coming in that this is a coordinated attack. Security forces are allowing no one inside or out of the base.

Army housing and the PAF museum are also located within the compound.

11:12pm

Four major explosions have been heard so far, along with gunfire. It is as yet unclear whether there is a gun battle going on inside the air base.

Ahmed Jung reporting for Express 24/7 says Rangers, and police officials are on the spot at the PAF base.

11:10pm

According to initial reports a hand grenade was used in the attack and an attacker has been killed.

The force of the blast has shattered surrounding buildings.

Heavy gunfire was also reported after the explosion. An eyewitness said that the blast took place near the gate of Faisal Base.

Police, rangers and rescue had reached the site of the blast.


====


Mystery surrounds number of Naval base attackers

KARACHI: Mystery surrounded the number of attackers who had besieged the navy’s airbase in Karachi as Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Chief of Naval Staff Admiral Noman Bashir and police gave different figures.

A police official claimed that there were twice as many attackers as the number claimed by the government and navy. An FIR of the attack at PNS Mehran, where police was not allowed to enter during the gunbattle against terrorists, was lodged with the Shahrah-e-Faisal Police Station on Tuesday. The FIR number 447/11 was registered under sections 302, 324, 427, 353, 121/34 of the Pakistan Penal Code, 3/4 of the Explosives Act and 7 Anti-Terrorism Act on the complaint of Lieutenant Irfan against 12 unidentified terrorists.

Eight of the terrorists nominated in the FIR are invisible in the whole episode, as reportedly, investigators had, after great difficulty, found the body of the forth terrorist who had blown himself up. In his statement, Lt Irfan said that terrorists were carrying rocket launchers, Kalashnikovs and other deadly weapons. He pointed out that the terrorists, who carried such a huge cache of weapons, had entered the PNS Mehran by climbing the back wall into the base with the help of ladders and cutters. The FIR states that 10 security personnel were martyred while four terrorists were killed during the attack. Security personnel recovered two live suicide jackets, 10 hand grenades, 1 rocket launcher and 4 Kalashnikovs that belonged to the attackers, it added. In Monday’s news conference, Interior Minister Rehman Malik had said that there were some four to six terrorists and two of them managed to flee from the airbase. But navy officials increased the number of terrorists a day after Malik’s media briefing. A navy spokesman said he was looking into the discrepancy. atif raza


====


Anti-Americanism rife in Pakistan army institution-Wikileaks

25 May 2011 09:47

Source: reuters // Reuters

* Military officers don't listen to U.S. views

* Some officers believe CIA in charge of U.S. media

* Anti-Americanism deepen in Pakistan after bin Laden killing (Updates with Taliban comment on nuclear weapons)

By Zeeshan Haider

ISLAMABAD, May 25 (Reuters) - Officers received training biased against the United States at a prestigious Pakistan army institution, according to Wikileaks, underscoring concern that anti-Americanism in the country's powerful military is growing amid strains with Washington.

A U.S. diplomatic cable said the former U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, Anne Patterson, found officers at the National Defence University (NDU) were "naive and biased" against the United States, a key ally which gives Pakistan billions of dollars of aid to help fight Islamist militants.

Fears the military could be harbouring militant sympathisers have grown since U.S. forces found and killed Osama bin Laden this month in a Pakistani garrison town, where the al Qaeda leader had probably lived for several years.

Pakistan's military also controls the country's nuclear arms, and a series of attacks against military installations has heightened fears about the safety of those weapons.

"The elite of this crop of colonels and brigadiers are receiving biased NDU training with no chance to hear alternative views of the U.S.," the Wikileaks cable, which was published in the Dawn newspaper, quoted Patterson as saying.

"Given the bias of the instructors, we also believe it would be beneficial to initiate an exchange program for instructors."

Some of the officers believed the CIA was in charge of the U.S. media, the report said.

Anti-Americanism runs high among many of Pakistan's mainly Muslim people but it has deepened after bin Laden's killing in a secret U.S. raid which many Pakistanis see as breach of sovereignty.

Patterson said the United States must target a "lost generation" of military officers who missed training programmes in the United States after Washington imposed sanctions against Pakistan in the 1990s for its nuclear programme.

The cables also documented the account of a U.S. army officer, Colonel Michael Schleicher, who attended a course at NDU and corroborated the views expressed by Patterson.

"The senior level instructors had misperception about U.S. policies and culture and infused the lectures with these suspicions, while the students share these misconceptions with their superiors despite having children who attended universities in the U.S. or London," the cables quoted Schleicher as saying.

Hamayoun Khan, a teacher at NDU, however denied that anti-Americanism was being taught at the university.

"I haven't seen bias which she has mentioned here," he said.

Dawn said dozens of cables from U.S. embassies around the world also showed that the United States continued to intensely monitor Pakistan's nuclear and missiles programmes.

In 2008, the U.S. deputy chief of mission at the U.S. embassy in Ankara, Nancy McEldowney, detailed her discussions with Turkish authorities about the U.S. desire to see action taken against suspicious shipments to Pakistan.

U.S. officials, according to the cable, "urged the GOT (government of Turkey) to contact the governments of Japan and Panama to request the shipment be diverted to another port and returned."

Pakistan's nuclear programme came under increasing international scrutiny after the 2004 confessions of Abdul Qadeer Khan, the father of Pakistan's atom bomb, about his involvement in sales of nuclear secrets to Iran, Iraq and North Korea.

The government pardoned Khan but put him under house arrest. A court in 2009 ordered his release.

A militant raid on a navy base in the southern city of Karachi this week has raised fresh anxiety about the ability of Pakistani security forces to protect installations and the country's nuclear arsenal.

A Taliban spokesman said militants had "so far" no plans to seize Pakistan's nuclear weapons.

"We will protect these weapons from dangers from foreigners," Ehsanullah Ehsan, a spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban told Reuters by telephone from an undisclosed location.

Many Pakistanis believe the United States and India would like to confiscate their nuclear weapons.

(Additional reporting by Haji Mujtabad; Editing by Alistair Scrutton and Robert Birsel)


====


PNS Mehran: Investigation reveals terrorists attacked base in 2 groups
Published: May 28, 2011

One group targeted the P3C Orion aircraft, the other entered the flight line building. PHOTO: REUTERS

KARACHI: Initial investigations into the terror attack on PNS Mehran in Karachi revealed on Saturday that the terrorists attacked the navy installation in two groups, Express 24/7 reported.

One of the groups targeted P3C Orion aircraft while the other entered the flight line building. Security forces surrounded that building from three sides and an exchange of fire ensued.

According to an officer of the investigating team, one of the terrorists, who was hiding inside the building, got injured by a bullet and blew himself up, turning the building into rubble. The rubble has now been removed from the base. All necessary evidence has also been collected from the site.

Earlier, five people were taken into custody for suspected involvement in the attacks. One of the suspects was nabbed from Faisalabad while four others were caught from various areas of Karachi.

One of the arrests resulted from traced phone calls from a terrorist cell phone, recovered after the 17-hour siege at PNS Mehran Base. Sunday’s assault was the worst on a military base since the army headquarters was besieged in October 2009.


===


Pakistani PC-3 Orien Aircart damaged by foreign terrorists in Karachi.

PNS Mehran Attacks by Foreign Secreat Agencies

Law enforcement agencies of Pakistan have arrested many suspects from different areas of Karachi and Faisalabad. They involve in PNS Mehran terrorism activity with the others. Eight of them arrested from Landhi, Korangi, Mochko, Baldia Town, Future Colony and Shah Faisal Colony.

During investigation from those terrorists, they revealed that 4 foreign secret agencies involve in these attacks. These persons belong to Yamen and related with the Russian terrorist organization Hazaf, which used against muslims in Afghan War by KGB. They were also supported by Indian secret agency RAW, revealed terrorists.

====


PNS Mehran: 'Air force action could have saved navy assets'
By Adil Jawad
Published: May 29, 2011

Inquiry committee says ‘inside job’ not just on navy’s part. PHOTO: REUTERS/FILE
KARACHI:

Had the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) engaged the attackers from the start, the damage to navy assets and the loss of lives could have been avoided, observed the board of inquiry established to investigate the PNS Mehran attack.

Not just that, but the entire incident raised questions about Pakistan’s ability to protect its sensitive installations, said the board on Saturday.

Members of the board suspect the ‘inside job’ may not necessarily just be on the navy’s part, but also the air force whose personnel visibly failed in keeping the attackers engaged.

Earlier reports claimed that the terrorists scaled the walls of the PAF Faisal base which is adjacent to PNS Mehran. Investigators are trying to figure out why the security personnel deployed by the PAF failed to keep the attackers sidetracked. They are also trying to determine how the C-130 aircraft was left unharmed.

Not a single shot was fired by PAF personnel which the board said was ‘shocking’. The terrorists travelled on foot between 600 and 800 metres within the territory, manned by the PAF guards, who apparently failed to spot them. It was also established that when the attackers fired six rockets at the P-3C Orion aircraft, they were in fact standing in the area that falls under the jurisdiction of the air force.

The attackers entered the PNS Mehran territory once the aircraft had gone up in flames.

In the wake of the first attack, the navy’s rapid response teams came into action within minutes. There were more than 10 aircraft, including helicopters, on the tarmac apart from the Orion. However, it was only because of the navy personnel response that further damage to assets was thwarted and 17 US and Chinese nationals were safely evacuated.

Navy spokesperson Commodore Irfanul Haq denied that Admiral Noman Bashir had claimed that there was no security lapse and that their naval chief had been misquoted. “If you hear the TV recordings of the press briefing again, you’ll see that all that he had said was that ‘one can define security lapse in whatever way one deems fit’.” He declined to comment on any part of the investigation until the board of inquiry submits its report.

The board is expected to present its final findings into the attack on June 5 to the high-ups in the military high command and senior government officials.

The inquiry board is headed by Rear Admiral Tehseenullah Khan and includes representatives of intelligence agencies, Pakistan Air Force, FIA and the police. A spokesperson for the air force, when contacted, declined to comment on the issue.

‘Arrests not in connection with PNS Mehran attack’

A Pakistan Navy spokesperson denied any knowledge of arrests made in Faisalabad or Karachi in connection with the PNS Mehran attack.

“The Pakistan Navy has not made any arrests. If any security agency has picked up these four so-called terrorists, they haven’t told us that arrests have been made in connection with the PNS Mehran attack,” he said. He added that the air force or the army could also be made target of this wave.

He said the four people picked up by security agencies, including one reportedly being a ringleader from Faisalabad, all belong to al Qaeda’s Ilyas Kashmiri group. One of the nabbed, Qari Qaiser, is said to be a hardcore militant who took direct orders from Ilyas Kashmiri.

The senior navy official said there are many active cells of the Ilyas Kashmiri group in the country and those arrested were just a tip of the iceberg.

He said the ongoing investigations have determined that the al Qaeda militants had indeed managed to infiltrate the ranks of the navy and not only gained sympathisers, but also recruits. “We are still figuring out how many of these militants were in contact with our (navy) people,” he said.

The official said that although it was unfortunate that people within their ranks had been found to have links with extremists. “The navy too is part of Pakistani society that is breeding extremism, so it was just a matter of time when something like this happened.”

The Pakistan Navy is not the only institution whose personnel were found to be involved in terrorism. A former Army male nurse-turned-jihadi played a key role in the 2009 GHQ attack, just like senior PAF officers, including one SSG commando who was found to be involved in the attack on then army chief Pervez Musharraf in 2004.

Two groups attacked

According to initial investigations, the terrorists attacked the navy installation in two groups.

One of the groups targeted the P-3C Orion aircraft, while the other entered the flight line building.

Security forces surrounded the building from three sides and an exchange of fire ensued. According to an investigation officer, one of the terrorists hiding inside the building was hit by a bullet and blew himself up, turning the building into rubble.

The base has now been cleared of the rubble. All necessary evidence has also been collected from the site.

According to details, security forces surrounded the building from three sides which is why the terrorists were unable to escape and got killed.

(WITH ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY NADEEM KHAN IN KARACHI)

Published in The Express Tribune, May 29th, 2011.

===


PNS Mehran investigation: Former navy commando detained in Lahore
By Abdul Mannan / Asad Kharal
Published: May 30, 2011

Irshad Bibi, 69, grieves while posing for the media with a picture of her son, former navy commando Kamran Ahmed, at the gate of her house in Lahore May 30, 2011. PHOTO: REUTERS
Irshad Bibi, 69, grieves while posing for the media with a picture of her son, former navy commando Kamran Ahmed, at the gate of her house in Lahore May 30, 2011. PHOTO: REUTERS A former Pakistan Navy commando and his brother were detained in Lahore in connection with the PNS Mehran base attack. Terrorists arrested say former commander Kamran Malik provided maps of base and other information. PHOTO: AFP

LAHORE: A former Pakistan Navy commando and his brother were detained in Lahore in connection with the PNS Mehran base attack.

The naval intelligence agency detained former navy commando Kamran Malik along with his brother Zaman from their residence in Gulberg. Malik was detained on the basis of a lead provided by one of the suspects that were arrested earlier from Karachi and Faislabad.

“They have been detained in connection with the naval base attack and are under interrogation,” one intelligence official said, without giving details.

Sources say Malik provided maps of the PNS Mehran base and other information to the terrorists.

Malik was court martialled 10 years ago due to evidence that he tortured a senior officer. He was subsequently admitted to the Combined Military Hospital and declared mentally unfit to serve as a navy commando. He went on to work as a seller of prize bonds.

During his service, Malik worked at PNS Mehran and PNS Iqbal naval base.

Eyewitnesses say that Malik and his brother were taken into custody on Friday morning at 10 am. 10 police officials, including a sub-inspector and other policemen in plain clothes, raided a workshop and took the men away.

Malik’s family claims that Malik has had no links with the navy since then. His father Sadruddin says that the accusations against Kamran are false, and that a judicial investigation should be conducted into the matter.

Malik’s phone was tapped by navy intelligence in 2008 when they suspected his involvement in an attack on a navy academy in Lahore. The attack left eight people dead and more than 20 injured. Malik’s name was on the list of suspects who were amongst a faction of radicalised, hardline members of the navy who may have corresponded with the terrorists that carried out the attack.

The list was re-investigated when the attack on the PNS Mehran base took place.

Suspects arrested from Karachi and Faislabad also claim that Malik provided them with information.

Terrorists attacked the PNS Mehran base on May 23, killing 10 navy personnel dead and destroying two PC3-Orion aircrafts. The monetary losses of the attack are estimated to be around $100 million.

===

Q+A-Haqqani: From White House guest to staunch U.S. enemy

31 May 2011 06:13

Source: reuters // Reuters

By Michael Georgy

ISLAMABAD, May 31 (Reuters) - Pakistan is gearing up for a military offensive against North Waziristan, a local newspaper reported, an operation that would pit the army against some of the world's most dangerous militants in the tribal region along the Afghan border.

Washington will push Pakistan to eliminate the Haqqani network -- which is based in North Waziristan and is one of its fiercest enemies just across the border in Afghanistan -- in any North Waziristan operation.

While the Pakistani military has launched major offensives in other regions in its unruly tribal belt, it has been hesitant to attack North Waziristan, which could pose the biggest risk.

Here are some questions and answers on the Haqqani network:

WHAT IS THE HAQQANI NETWORK?

Named after its leader Jalaluddin Haqqani, it is one of three, and perhaps the most feared, of the Taliban-allied insurgent factions fighting U.S.-led NATO and Afghan troops in Afghanistan.

Jalaluddin gained notoriety as an anti-Soviet mujahideen commander in Afghanistan in the 1980s. His bravery and ability to organise mujahideen fighters won him funding and weapons from U.S. and Pakistani intelligence services and Saudi Arabia.

Former U.S. Congressman Charlie Wilson, who fund-raised for the Afghan resistance, once called Jalaluddin "goodness personified". The warrior was held in such high esteem he visited the White House when Ronald Reagan was President.

After the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan in 2001, Haqqani turned his ferocity and battle skills on Western forces. He earned a top spot on the CIA hit list, along with his old friend Osama bin Laden, whom he met during the anti-Soviet resistance.

Despite ill health, Jalaluddin, who is in his 70s, still inspires Haqqani foot soldiers believed to number up to 4,000, as well as other militant groups who revere him. His son Siraj, seen as more ruthless, runs the daily affairs of the network.

WHERE DO THE HAQQANIS OPERATE?

The Haqqanis are ethnic Pashtuns from the Zadran tribe in southeastern Afghanistan's Paktia province. The group is active across much of southeastern Afghanistan and seeks to regain full control over its traditional bases in Khost, Paktia and Paktika provinces.

The Haqqanis are thought to have introduced suicide bombing to Afghanistan. They are believed to have been behind several high-profile attacks in Afghanistan including a raid on Kabul's top hotel, an assassination attempt on President Hamid Karzai and a suicide attack on the Indian embassy.

The Haqqanis are based in North Waziristan, although they have been heavily targeted in recent months by missiles fired from pilotless U.S. drone aircraft.

WHY DOES PAKISTAN ALLOW THEM TO STAY IN NORTH WAZIRISTAN?

The Haqqanis have become one of the biggest sources of tension between allies Washington and Islamabad.

Pakistan has denied supporting the Haqqanis but has long resisted U.S. pressure to launch a full-scale offensive in Waziristan to crush the network for both domestic and foreign policy reasons.

As one of the most powerful insurgent groups in Afghanistan, the Haqqanis could act as a spoiler if Pakistan feels its interests are threatened in any settlement to the ten-year war. It also sees the Haqqanis as the best insurance policy against the growing influence of rival India in Afghanistan.

But caving in to Washington and attacking the Haqqanis could further destabilise Pakistan.

The armed forces are already stretched fighting a nexus of dangerous homegrown militants -- both Taliban and other groups -- who have found shelter in Haqqani-controlled territory and in return for an unofficial protective shield.

"They see him (Jalaluddin) as the Guardian of the al Qaeda forces in this region. If Pakistani troops launch an all-out attack on the Haqqani network that would mean upsetting the hornet's nest," said Imtiaz Gul, author of "The Most Dangerous Place: Pakistan's Lawless Frontier".

WOULD THE HAQQANIS FIT INTO ANY AFGHAN PEACE SETTLEMENT?

Pakistan hopes the United States will eventually welcome the participation of the Haqqanis in any Afghan peace talks. Kabul also understands the group can't be excluded.

Although the Haqqanis fall under the command of Taliban leader Mullah Omar, U.S. officials believe they do not always accept Taliban authority and can act independently.

Jalaluddin has historically shown a penchant for changing sides, as the Americans know all too well, and he may be more flexible than the hardline Siraj.

Washington is scrambling to bring stability to Afghanistan before its gradual withdrawal in July of 2011. Striking a deal with the Haqqanis may be wise while the ailing Jalaluddin might still have a say. (Editing by Miral Fahmy)

===

Pakistani troops aid Bahrain's crackdown
Foundation linked to the Pakistani army has been providing Bahrain thousands of soldiers for its crackdown on protests.
Mujib Mashal Last Modified: 30 Jul 2011 15:31
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Demonstrations against Bahrain's government have been escalating since the Arab Spring [EPA]

In March, as a government crackdown on pro-democracy protestors intensified in Bahrain, curious advertisements started appearing in Pakistani media.

"Urgent requirement - manpower for Bahrain National Guard," said one.

"For service in Bahrain National Guard, the following categories of people with previous army and police experience are urgently needed," said another, with "previous experience" and "urgent need" underscored.

The categories included: former army drill instructors, anti-riot instructors, retired military police, and former army cooks.

In the following two months, on the back of visits to Islamabad by senior Saudi and Bahraini officials, sources say at least 2,500 former servicemen were recruited by Bahrainis and brought to Manama, increasing the size of their national guard and riot police by as much as 50 per cent.

"We know that continued airplanes are coming to Bahrain and bringing soldiers from Pakistan," Nabeel Rajab, president of the Bahrain Centre for Human Rights, told Al Jazeera.

"We do not know the exact number, but we know that it is much more than 1,500 or 2,000 people."

Recruited into the special forces, the national guard, and the riot police, the Pakistani citizens are tasked with suppressing Shia protesters that are reportedly demanding equal rights after years of alleged oppression at the hands of the royal family, part of Bahrain's Sunni minority.

"Our own Shia cannot join the security forces, but the government recruits from abroad," said Rajab.

On the ground in Pakistan, the recruitments were handled by the Fauji Foundation, one of the largest conglomerates in the country with close ties to the Pakistani military. In addition to the Overseas Employment Services, which is tasked with providing job opportunities for retired military personnel, the foundation owns large cereal and gas companies, sugar mills, security firms, as well as hospitals and universities.
Advertisement placed in Pakistani papers, reading: 'Urgent Need for Bahrain National Guard'


The Fauji Foundation did not respond to Al Jazeera's request for comment.

"Pakistanis, particularly Baluchs, make up a large part of the Bahraini force," said Fahad Desmukh, a former resident of Bahrain who now lives in Pakistan.


"They are extremely visible on the streets - so visible that the protestors were recently responding to the police in Urdu, knowing they did not speak Arabic." [Watch the video of protesters chanting 'police are crazy' in Urdu here.]

A small country of roughly 800,000 people (including about 235,000 non-nationals), Bahrain has a Defence Force of about 12,000 and a National Guard of 1,200, according to the US State Department.

The National Guard, which is in the foreront of the crackdown, seems to have been more than doubled by the recent recruitments of mostly Baluch servicemen.

"What it shows is that the Bahraini government has little trust in its own citizens to conduct security operations," Michael Stephens, a Qatar-based Bahrain specialist at the Royal United Services Institute, told Al Jazeera.

"So they rely on foreign recruits to unquestioningly carry out orders of violently suppressing protests."


While Arab nations have a long history of leaning on Pakistan for military expertise as well as foot soldiers, the recent increase in recruitments come at a tricky time. Pakistan has struggled to quell widespread ethnic violence and a robust insurgency on its own streets.

In the region, too, the country faces tremendous challenges.

"It has certainly put Pakistan in a very awkward position, where it has to balance its relationship with Iran on the one side and Saudi Arabia and Bahrain on the other," Stephens said.

Iran, a leading Shia country, has repeatedly denounced the Bahraini government's crackdown on the Shia - while Saudi Arabia has remained Bahrain's closest ally.

Inside Bahrain, the recruitments have brought dangers to the South Asian diaspora, where ill-feeling towards Pakistanis has increased, reportedly because they are seen as the main vehicle in the crackdown.

The influx of Sunni mercenaries has also increased fears that the government might be naturalising the new recruits in its efforts to change the country's Shia-majority demographic.

Importing expertise

Video footage of Bahraini protesters chanting: 'Our police are Pakistani'. Al Jazeera cannot be held responsible for content hosted on third party sites [YouTube]

"In the 1970s and 80s, many Arab countries flushed with oil money bought state of the art equipment, but [the] local population lacked technical skills," said Hamid Hussain, a long time analyst and historian of the Pakistani military.

"A number of Pakistan army and air force personnel were deputed to several countries including Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain, Qatar, Jordan, Syria and Iraq. "

The recruitments varied from a dozen advisors to thousands of trainers and operators of complicated equipment.

The most prominent cases of such partnership was in 1970, when then Brigadier Zia ul Haq helped the Jordanian forces suppress Palestinians in what became known as "Black September".

Zia ul Haq, in one of the interesting paradoxes of the Pakistani military, later became a feared dictator who introduced a swift process of "Islamisation".

Pakistan's security relationship with Saudi Arabia, in particular, has put it at odds with Iran, its neighbour to the west. The two nations have been stuck in a Shia-Sunni rivalry for decades and have battled proxy wars across the region.

During the 1991 Gulf war, much to Saudi Arabia's apparent dismay, Pakistan turned down their request for preemptive help, in case Saddam Hussain launched attacks.

Reviving the relationship since has taken a long time, but when the uprising in Bahrain brought fears of unrest knocking on Saudi doors, the chairman of the Saudi National Security Council, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, made two quiet trips to Pakistan to seek their support in case protests erupted at home.

"Potential need for foreign troops in case protests spiral out of control has forced Saudis to work with current Pakistani civilian government for whom they have nothing but utter contempt," said Hussain.

Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Reza Gilani told Prince Bandar that his country supported the Saudi stance in the Gulf and the Middle East and would stand by Riyadh for regional peace, according to Pakistani media.

Al Jazeera's Fault Lines examines why the US supports protests in Libya - but not in Bahrain

"The president and prime minister of Pakistan, faced with grim economic situation of the country and army brass uncertain about continued US funding, are delighted at the potential of a cash windfall from Saudi patrons," said Hussain.

Also on Prince Bandar's agenda was gaining Pakistan's support for the Saudi-led Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) force that deployed to Bahrain for helping the Kingdom.

The trip was followed by visits from the Bahraini foreign minister and the commander of their national guard.

Then, recruitment adverts appeared in Pakistani media.

Baluchistan, where most of the recruits come from, is a province of six million in Pakistan's southwest. For decades, an armed movement for self-determination there has been met with a severe government crackdown.

Baluch nationalist fighters expressed their dismay at the recruitment long before the recent escalation.

"We call upon the Baluch nation not to become part of any tyrant or oppressive army, at a time when the Baluch nation is living in a state of war … and are struggling against the tyrants ourselves," Basham Baluch, a spokesman for Baluch Liberation Front said in a 2009 statement.

"Instead of turning the young Baluch into hired killers, they should join the national armies [Baluch Liberation Front, Baluchistan Liberation Army] to make the independence of their homeland a reality.

"We do not want the Baluch people to be used and turned into mercenaries."


The backlash

Bahrain is home to a large population of foreign labourers. The majority of the work forces there comprises South Asian migrants, particularly Pakistanis.



Human rights activists and analysts also fear that the government is swiftly increasing the rate of naturalisation for Sunni immigrants in recent months in order to tip the ethnic balance of the country.

With a clear Shia majority, the country has been ruled by a royal family from the Sunni minority.

"What needs to be closely watched is the number of these recruits who will be naturalised in the coming months and years ahead," said RUSI's Stephens.

"Many will not return home to Pakistan, and recent statistics show that South Asians make up a big majority of the foreign citizens naturalised in Bahrain."

While many believe Pakistan is providing workers and soldiers to Bahrain in return for much needed economic aid, activists such as Rajab remain perplexed by the decision.


"Our country has a history of appreciation for the help Pakistanis have provided in development. But more recently we have seen crimes directed at Pakistanis, and that is worrying," said Rajab, the human rights activist.

He points to the fact that thousands of people have been arrested and hundreds of houses have been looted by government forces. Since Pakistanis make up at least 30 per cent of the security forces, he says, when people think of the crackdown they think of Pakistanis.

"The poor Pakistani labourer who has nothing do with security forces suffers from all this."
"What I wonder is how the Pakistani government allows this many people to be brought here and used as mercenaries," said Rajab.

"We know that many of these recruits are poor, uneducated, and are just looking for a job. They don't know what they are signing up for. But the Pakistan government certainly knows, so why are they allowing this?"


Follow Mujib Mashal on Twitter: @mujmash

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Qari Shahid was involved in Mehran Base attack, his widow says
By Manzar Turk - Dec 14th, 2011 (No Comment)
5
Karachi: Sabeeha, a widow of alleged terrorist Qari Shahid, who was killed in police encounter on Dec 5, has told investigators that her husband was involved in major terrorist strikes in Karachi, including attacks on Mehran airbase and Chaudhry Aslam’s residence.
Inspector General Police Sindh Mushtaq Shah on Wednesday said during a press conference that Sabeeha revealed the investigators that Punjabi Mujahid group was involved in these major attacks.
The IG said that Sabeeha has confessed to her involvement in the Karachi University blast and added that she gave a bomb to Umer alias Chottu.
Sabeeha further told that another accused Sohail brought five people from Waziristan for Mehran airbase attack. She added that she had visited PAF Museum before the airbase attack for reiki.
“Sohail brought two suicide bombers for CID attack and provided them a residence,” she told investigators. She further told that an accused Shahid Khan planted a bomb for attack on police in Malir with the help of Jundullah.
“I have lost my two brothers in US drone attacks in tribal region of Pakistan,” she said during investigation.