Monday, May 23, 2011

Attacks, threats & unconfirmed reports

Nearly 12 hours after terrorists attacked a Pakistani naval base in Karachi, a security official said the operation to regain control was complete. Several militants had been killed while a number of others had been taken alive to an unspecified detention centre.

Reports say that Pakistan troops were "mopping up" and assessing the damage. The raid which began late Sunday night saw militants destroy two US-made P-3C Orion anti-submarine planes as well as a helicopter [BBC].

Several people were taken hostage though it was not immediately known if they escaped unharmed. Earlier the BBC reported that amongst the hostages were Chinese military personnel. China's own state broadcaster CCTV said the four Chinese nationals were engineers. Later China's Foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said, "No Chinese nationals were taken hostage," adding further confusion. Another report suggesting four US engineers working at the base had been killed were denied by the US consulate in Karachi. The true number of hostages, their nationality and status has yet to be established.

Also unclear is the number of militants killed or taken prisoner, as well as the number of Pakistan troops killed or injured in the operation to reclaim the base.

The Taleban declared responsibility for the raid saying it was in retaliation for the killing of Osama bin Laden. However a reporter from the Pakistan newspaper The Dawn suggested the attack had been planned for some time before bin Laden's death due to the complex nature of the mission.

London faces terror threat

There have also been threats of further attacks in revenge for bin Laden's death. Over the weekend several messages surfaced which warned of imminent attacks in both Britain and America [The Sun / Hindustan Times].

Al Qaeda's new chief Saif al-Adel vowed to launch a devastating terror attack on London to avenge Osama bin Laden's death. Adel, 51, is said to have once been bin Laden's security chief and is regarded by the FBI to be extremely dangerous.

al-Qaeda critical of NATO

On Saturday a tape surfaced which claimed the West was after Libya's oil. Al-Qaeda's number 2 Ayman al-Zawahiri referred to the US as "crusaders" and insisted the NATO mission seen in the past few weeks was not a humanitarian one. "NATO is not a goodwill organization ... it is an aid to the hegemonic powers in this world," al-Zawahiri allegedly says in a portion of the tape on Libya. "They aim to end the corrupt (Moammar) Gadhafi regime but then install their own ideals. They want to steal Libya's resources and relics because of their greed and politics." [CNN / AP / Daily Mail]

Taleban leader 'dead'

In other news it was reported that Mullah Omar Mohammed a high ranking Taleban commander had been killed on Monday. An Afghan television station was the first to report his death in the Waziristan region of Pakistan. The report was quickly picked up by China's state news agency Xinhua and disseminated by other news organisations [Press TV]. However, the Taleban themselves denied Omar was dead and Pakistan officials could not independently confirm the reports [WireUpdate-BNO / LA Times / CNN].

Obama defends operations on foreign soil

The reports came a day after President Barack Obama said he would launch a similar style raid to that seen a few weeks ago on Pakistani soil which targeted Osama bin Laden. He was speaking during an exclusive interview with the BBC. The president was directly asked if he would launch an operation on foreign soil. "If you find another very high value target at the top of al-Qaeda, Mullah Omar or whoever it might be in Pakistani territory or other sovereign territory, would you do the same again?" the reporter asked. Obama did not hold back saying he would do whatever was necessary to protect America.

"Well I've always been clear to the Pakistanis. And I'm not the first administration to say this. That our job is to secure the United States. We are very respectful of the sovereignty of Pakistan. But we cannot allow someone who is actively planning to kill our people or our our allies' people we can't allow those kind of active plans to come to fruition without us taking some action."

"And our hope is and our expectation is that we can achieve that in a way that is fully respectful of Pakistan's sovereignty. But I had made no secret. I had said this when I was running for the presidency, that if I had a clear shot at bin Laden...we'd take it.

The president touches down in Britain this week on a three day visit which has already seen a vamping up of security in light of a increased terror threat [Daily Mail].

tvnewswatch, Beijing, China

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