Al Qaeda targets Pakistan's nuclear bases

We give you a lot of sugar on this blog–humping robots, movie trailers, giant spiders attacking the space shuttle. We also deliver the hard news, too. It’s a package deal. This post fits the latter category. It’s about as hard as news gets: Terrorists attacking bases that house nuclear weapons in one of the most brittle countries in the world. Bill Roggio does the honors here. Read the whole thing.

Yesterday’s suicide bombing at the Kamra Air Force Base in Punjab was not the first strike at a nuclear weapons storage facility. After a closer look at the bases struck inside Pakistan since August, at least two more strikes occurred either on or near nuclear weapons storage facilities, based on open source information on Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programs. Since August 2007, there have been two suicide attacks at or near the Sargodha Air Force Base, a nuclear weapons and missile storage facility in central Punjab province. Other attacks in Punjab and the Northwest Frontier Province may be aimed at facilities providing regional security for Pakistan’s nuclear program.

On August 2, Pakistani police prevented a suicide bomber from attacking a parade at a police training facility in the city of Sargodha in eastern Punjab province. Police shot and killed the suicide bomber after he climbed the wall of the police academy, fired on a security detail, and ran towards the parade grounds where over 900 recruits assembled. One police officer was killed and another wounded in the exchange.

The spate of attacks at military bases has largely targeted officers, new recruits, and the families of those serving. The Taliban and al Qaeda’s objective may be two-fold: intimidate officers either on the fence or who do not support the Islamists, and erode the military’s capacity to defend nuclear installations if the Taliban and al Qaeda can mount a raid to seize nuclear weapons. While the Pakistani nuclear weapons are under tight security according to the government, US intelligence officials have repeatedly expressed concerned over the safety of Pakistan’s arsenal.

There’s quite a bit between those paragraphs, dense detail about the war in Pakistan. This story follows Bill’s incredible piece about the terror supply lines running into Iraq from Iran.

On the good news front, NATO and Afghan forces declared victory today over Taliban louts who had taken over Musa Qala and turned it into their only urban base of operations in Afghanistan.

The battle to retake the Taliban’s only urban base of Musa Qala in southern Afghanistan has been completed, Nato announced today.

The declaration came 24 hours after the Afghan defence ministry said Nato and Afghan forces had “completely captured” the town in Helmand province.

Afghan soldiers, backed by British, US and Estonian forces, were reported to have moved into the centre of Musa Qala this morning with little resistance. Taliban commanders withdrew their forces after heavy bombardment.

A statement from Nato’s International Security Assistance Force (Isaf) said troops had been welcomed by residents after they “liberated” the centre of the town.

“With the support of Isaf forces, hundreds of Afghan national army (ANA) troops moved into the centre this morning and met with little resistance,” Isaf said.

“Taliban commanders had earlier fled the area as their resistance crumbled. The action to retake the centre – after several months of Taliban control – was greeted enthusiastically by local residents, whose safety had been of paramount importance to the liberating forces.”

The Afghan and coalition forces reportedly functioned well together in driving the Taliban out.