A group of heavily armed militants attacked a Pakistani military air base in the Punjab province Thursday, triggering a severe gun battle that lasted for several hours leaving at least seven suspected attackers and one soldier dead.
The attackers, wearing military uniforms and suicide belts, entered the Minhas air base located at Kamra, Attock District, Pakistan, at around 2 a.m. Although, the militants attacked early Thursday morning, it is likely that the security officers on the base were awake for prayers or breakfast during Ramadan, the month of fasting.
According to an air force spokesman, the Minhas air base also known as the Kamra air base did not house nuclear weapons. "No air base is a nuclear air base in Pakistan," Reuters quoted an air force spokesman as saying.
According to a statement by the Pakistani Air Force, the commandos exchanged gunfire with the attackers for several hours at the Minhas base in Kamra.
"One body of a suicide bomber strapped with explosives has been found close to the impact area," said an air force statement.
As the militants strapped with suicide bombing vests approached the aircraft hangars, security forces opened fire on them, which led the other militants to fire rocket-propelled grenades from outside the base's walls, said the air force spokesman.
Base commander Air Commodore Muhammad Azam, who led the operation against the militants, was also injured in the firing but his condition is stable, said the spokesman.
Following the attack, all military air bases in Pakistan have been placed on high alert.
It was not immediately clear as to how the attackers managed to enter the base because several regiments of soldiers and surveillance planes are housed at the base.
"Security personnel are now in the process of scanning the entire area to check for the presence of any other miscreant," said the spokesman.
The Minhas base, located around 75km (45 miles) northeast of Islamabad, is one of Pakistan's largest air base with about 30 fighter jets.
Although, no groups have claimed responsibility for the attack, Islamist militants linked to the Pakistani Taliban have targeted Pakistan's military bases in the past as well.