Taliban storm airbase housing nukes in Pakistan
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Taliban terrorists wearing suicide vests, and carrying rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons, stormed a major Pakistan air force base believed to house nuclear weapons early Thursday, triggering a fierce gunbattle that left all nine terrorists and a soldier dead, and parts of the complex in flames.
The terrorists breached at least three barriers to enter the Minhas airbase at Kamra in Attock district, some 40 km from Islamabad around 2 am, and tried to destroy fighters including F-16s and China-made JF-17s and Saab-2000 surveillance aircraft.
US defence secretary Leon Panetta had only a day earlier expressed renewed fear about Pakistan's nukes falling into terrorists' hands. Kamra is thought to be home to a part of Pakistan's at least 100-warhead nuclear arsenal.
An air force spokesperson said eight terrorists were killed inside the base and the ninth "exploded himself outside the perimeter" where he was hiding. A soldier was killed and Air Commodore Muhammad Azam, the commander of the base, took a bullet in the shoulder during the three-hour firefight.
One aircraft was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade, the spokesperson said, but gave no details of the aircraft or of the extent of damage it suffered.
Tehrik-e-Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan said their suicide bombers had carried out the attack to avenge the killing of militant commander Baitullah Mehsud and Osama bin Laden.
The attack had dealt a "lethal blow" to the security forces, Ihsan said.
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