Kamra Airbase Attack: Pakistan’s Vital Military Site Targeted for the Fourth Time (Video)

Islamist militants armed with rocket-propelled grenades and automatic weapons fought their way into one of Pakistan's largest air bases on Thursday, the air force said, in a brazen challenge to the nuclear-armed country's powerful military.

Only one aircraft was damaged, said an air force spokesman, adding that the Minhas air base at Kamra, in central Punjab province, did not house nuclear weapons. "No air base is a nuclear air base in Pakistan," he said.

A gun battle raged for hours after the attack started. Commandos were called in to reinforce and police armored personnel carriers could seen heading into the base.

Eight militants and one soldier were killed, the spokesman said. The attackers moved through a nearby village under cover of darkness and climbed a nine foot (2.7 meter) wall strung with barbed wire to break into the base. Some were wearing military uniforms.

Base commander Air Commodore Muhammad Azam, who led the operation against the attackers, was shot in the shoulder, but is in stable condition, said spokesman Captain Tariq Mahmood.

Minhas, 75 km (45 miles) northeast of Islamabad, is adjacent to the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex, a major air force research and development centre. Pakistan manufactures JF-17 fighter planes, jointly developed with China, at the site. The Kamra complex and its personnel have been targeted by terrorists several times in the past.

On October 23, 2009, seven persons were killed when a suicide bomber struck a check post outside the airbase. On January 18, 2008, terrorists fired four rockets at short intervals. One landed on the roof of senior Non Commissioned Officer's mess, and two inside the Mirage Rebuild Factory in the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex. Similarly on December 10, 2007 a suicide bomber near the Pakistan Aeronautical Complex in Kamra attacked a Pakistan Air Force Employees school bus.