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Mehran airbase attack: 3 Pak naval officers punished

Last updated on: May 22, 2012 13:41 IST
Three senior officers of the Pakistan navy have been penalised after a court martial found them guilty of negligence and dereliction of duty during a deadly Taliban attack on a key naval airbase in Karachi last year, which also destroyed two US-made surveillance aircraft.

The navy's media arm confirmed that the three officers were tried "under the naval law and were accordingly penalised." It did not identify the officers or give details about the punishment.

Reports in the media identified the officers as Commodore Raja Tahir, who was the commander of the Mehran naval airbase when it was attacked on May 22 last year, Lt Commander Ibrar-ul-Hasan, the airbase's security officer, and Capt Mohammad Israr.

Tahir's seniority was reduced by a year while the seniority of the two other officers was reduced by six months, the media reports said.

A board of inquiry headed by Rear Admiral Tehsinullah Khan had probed the terrorist attack on the Mehran airbase that killed 10 security personnel and destroyed two P3C Orion maritime surveillance aircraft. Four attackers were gunned down or blew themselves up after a 16-hour standoff within the base.

The board of inquiry presented its recommendations to then naval chief Admiral Noman Bashir, who authorised the court martial proceedings. No naval personnel were found to be complicit in the incident.

Reports soon after the attack had suggested that the terrorists might have had "inside help".

Senior journalist Syed Saleem Shahzad was abducted and killed days after he alleged in an article that the Al Qaeda had infiltrated the Pakistan navy.

The banned Pakistani Taliban had claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was carried out to avenge the killing of Osama bin Laden in a unilateral US military raid in the garrison town of Abbottabad.

Pakistani authorities are yet to arrest the mastermind of the brazen attack. A naval spokesperson told the media that the overall security of naval units, including the Mehran airbase, had been re-evaluated and strengthened in the aftermath of the attack.

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