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An eyewitness account of the terrorist attack at Khalid Aviation Base, Quetta and PAF Base Samungli on night 14/15 August 2014.

Byline: Lt Col Sohail Akbar Bajwa

It was an evening as usual in Quetta as I was retiring at my residence and was enjoying the programmes of Independence Day on TV. It was around 2135 hours that I received a call from HQ Southern Command (HQ SC) that I needed to report immediately at Khalid Aviation Base (KAB) Quetta in relation with a terrorist activity.

Being a Commanding Officer (CO) of Light Commando Battalion, I immediately passed instructions to my men and moved to the location of the incident. In the meanwhile I was informed that some intrusion by the terrorists had taken place both at PAF Base Samungli and KAB. The CO of a Punjab regiment, Lt Col Ahmed was also passed similar instructions who also immediately moved to KAB.

Upon reaching KAB and taking control of my area of responsibility, I came to know that the terrorists were spotted by few civilians while they were attempting to cut the outer fence of the base and making their way in. The locals residing nearby KAB, displayed responsibility and immediately passed this information to the authorities concerned. The information was conforming to earlier threats to KAB and Samungli base thus the entire security apparatus in the cantonment as well as Samungli base came to red alert.

I was told to cordon off the base from south, checking suspicious movement and stop any spillover of the terrorists towards the Cantonment. Meanwhile the General Officer Commanding (GOC) Maj Gen Aftab, Brigadier Rohail and Brigadier Aziz ul Hassan Usmani had been carrying the reconnaissance of entire base periphery. At the same time, the QRF of my unit was put on 15 minutes notice possibly for PAF Base Samungli.

In the meanwhile, troops from FF regiment were also assigned to carry out search from the intrusion site. As soon the troops led by Lt Col Waseem Iqbal and Captain Yasir approached the middle part of the fence, they were fired upon fiercely. The fire was so intense that it had hit Brigadier Usmani's vehicle, bursting its tyre, and a bullet also passed through the jeep of Maj Gen Aftab. It is important to mention about the valour of the Base Commander's driver who changed the burst tyre in minimum time amidst heavy exchange of fire and successfully brought the commander back to base.

This fire caused multiple bullet injuries to troops of FF regiment including Captain Yasir, however terrorists were fired back by soldiers of Punjab regiment. Enemy was in near vicinity and fire exchange was taking place from as close as 70 metres. The valiant sons of Punjab regiment led by its brave officers proved true to their salt. In this dual of extreme nerves they proved their professional mettle and hit the terrorists back with extreme courage and bravery.

Meanwhile Punjab regiment on inner cordon of the base was reinforced by troops of Punjab Light Commando Battalion led by Major Hassan in heavy volleys of fire. Moving forward I contacted CO of the Punjab regiment and coordinated the employment of my men with him. The best part was that no intrusion had been made by the terrorists into KAB. The fire fight continued till 0145 hours when the last of the big blasts was heard near inner fence. It was expected that all terrorists had been killed by that time. It was the same time that I received a call from Maj Gen Majid Ehsan who appreciated all the troops, took a stock of situation on ground and asked me for any further help in discharging of duties.

The situation and events at PAF Base Samungli were no different from KAB. The provost and intelligence tentacles provided the information of a suspicious vehicle with about 8 individuals parked within short vicinity of outer boundary of the base wall near Kili Khezi. Troops from FC Balochistan deployed outside the wall were assigned to check the vehicle. When the FC troops reached near the vehicle, the terrorists, of whom two were wearing FC uniforms started firing at them.

In the heavy exchange of fire, the terrorists spread out and started firing rockets, small arms and various other fire arms. They fired about 5-6 rockets into the air base which landed near main tarmac. Allah had been so kind that no harm was done and that few of those rockets didn't even explode. Three terrorists were killed during this encounter with the FC.

This was followed by a fierce fire fight between terrorists and own security guards on outer fence which resulted in multiple bullet and shrapnel injuries to own troops of the Punjab regiment and Defence Services Guard (DSG).

During this exchange of fire, Wing Commander Mehr Gul, rushed to the base main tarmac. Simultaneously Air Commodore Salman Bukhari moved troops of the Punjab regiment and PAF ground combaters to the boundary wall to tackle the expected intrusion. The terrorists had also made holes in outer boundary wall and were making efforts to enter the base. In the same situation, the terrorists got inside the boundary wall and were hiding near one of the washrooms of DSG living area.

At about 0130 hours, Wing Commander Mehr Gul and Wing Commander Ameed Ullah requested base Commander for employment of Punjab Light Commando troops at the air base since any further intrusion into the base could be disastrous. On the request of the Base Commander, an armed helicopter (heli) was sent to Samungli from KAB. The heli spotted few individuals hiding along boundary wall and fired upon them. The QRF of Punjab Light Commando Battalion comprising 40 individuals was moved to the Air Base at about 0245 hours. Snipers were deployed along the inner perimeter covering the fighter aircrafts while Captain Fakhar alongwith Wing Commander Mehr Gul climbed upon ADA pen (a high rise structure) for observing and locating the hidden terrorists. They successfully located the hidden terrorists through specialized NVGs and same information was shared with Major Atif and Captain Bugti of the Punjab regiment and PAF troops. These two brave officers were quick to respond and killed the terrorists.

By 0615 hours the situation had calmed at both bases. The assets had remained safe Alhamdolillah and there wasn't any fatal casualties to own troops except 14 wounded. In all, 12 terrorists had been killed including 6 who were wearing suicidal jackets. The terrorists had left behind a huge cache of ammunition and explosives. The national threat had been subdued with great courage and conviction and above all, with the united response of all our security forces.

Lt Gen Nasser Janjua, Commander Southern Command was continuously monitoring the situation at both places and was issuing orders for implementation at ground level. The follow up visits of Gen Raheel Sharif, Chief of Army Staff, Air Chief Marshal Tahir Rafique Butt, Chief of Air Staff, CM Balochistan Abdul Malik along with his ministers, IG police, and IGFC Balochistan to the wounded officers and soldiers raised the morale of the troops.

The success of the operation was a divine blessing indeed. The public grew more confidence in the forces and are certain that the security of Pakistan lie in safer hands. Timely help in shape of information sharing by the local population was indeed the most valuable asset in this operation.

We all should bow our heads to Allah Almighty in gratitude of the divine help in the thickest hour.
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Geographic Code:9INDI
Date:Aug 31, 2014
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