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Pakistan disciplines officers over base attack

Pakistan is to discipline three navy officers for negligence a year after a 17-hour militant assault on a military base in the heart of Karachi, a navy spokesman said today.

world Updated: May 22, 2012 13:09 IST

Pakistan is to discipline three navy officers for negligence a year after a 17-hour militant assault on a military base in the heart of Karachi, a navy spokesman said on Tuesday.

Heavily armed militants stormed the naval base in the country's biggest city on May 22, 2011, destroying two US-made P-3C Orion surveillance planes and killing 10 personnel.

It was one of the worst such assaults in Pakistan and embarrassed the armed forces just weeks after US Navy SEALs killed Osama bin Laden near the country's premier military academy in the town of Abbottabad.

The three officials, who include the base commander at the time of the attack, Commodore Raja Tahir, were found guilty of negligence by a board of inquiry.

"Disciplinary action has been initiated in accordance with Pakistan naval law," a navy spokesman told AFP.

Details of the punishment were not released, but officials suggested that they would be limited to a freeze on promotions and command appointments.

Analysts believe the navy is likely to be lenient, partly because it was a joint air force and naval base, where responsibilities may not have been clearly defined.

The four to six gunmen were armed with rocket-propelled grenades, explosives and rifles. They climbed over the wall of Mehran base under the cover of darkness and took 17 hours to eliminate.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

Journalist Saleem Shahzad was tortured to death last May just days after writing about links between rogue elements of the navy and al Qaeda following the Mehran base attack.