Attack on Karachi airport leaves at least 26 dead
Updated: 2014-06-09 08:20
|A policeman with a gun stands on a vehicle as smoke bellows from Jinnah International airport in Karachi June 9, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]
|China, Pakistan vow to strengthen anti-terrorism cooperation
ISLAMABAD - Militants stormed Pakistan's biggest airport on Sunday and at least 26 people were killed in a night-long battle at one of the country's most high-profile targets.
All the 10 militants involved in the attack were killed in a joint operation launched by the Pakistan army, Airport Security Force (ASF) and Police officers said.
Local media reports said that eight militants were killed in shoot-out with security forces while two blew themselves up near the airport workshop and engineering unit, incurring a heavy loss to them.
The Pakistan Taliban on Monday morning claimed responsibility for the attack at the Jinnah International Airport in Pakistan's southern port city of Karachi on late Sunday night that killed 19 people and injured 23 others, local media reported.
Shahidullah Shahid, the spokesman of the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), told media that they conducted the attack at the Karachi airport in a revenge of the killing of their former leader Hakeemullah Mehsud in a U.S. drone strike in November last year.
"This is also a reaction against the unannounced operation by the Pakistan army. We shall continue such attacks in future," said Shahid.
The report said that at least 10 people including seven Airport Security Force personnel, a policeman, an employee of Civil Aviation authority and a captain with Pakistan International Airlines were killed in the attack.
At least 17 security personnel were also injured in the attack who were shifted to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital.
One militant who was trying to flee was arrested and shifted to unidentified place by the security forces.
According to a statement by the spokesperson of Prime Minister House, at least 10 heavily armed militants entered the airport from a terminal used for cargo and special VIP operations, at about 11:20 pm (local time).
The attackers succeeded in entering the airport by lobbing hand grenades at the on duty security personnel and opening fire at them.
The militants set two airplanes including cargo plane of a foreign company of fire and partially damaged four others by firing at them.
Government officials later denied the reports of damage to the planes, however, local media keep on insisting that the militants incurred a heavy loss to the planes parked at the airport.
Local TV channels also showed footage of huge fire from a distance which seemed engulfing one big plane.
Militants also reportedly set an oil terminal at fire.
The airport fire was put out by fire fighters who said that 30 vehicles were involved in the operation.
At one stage it seemed that militants would take control of the airport by the speed of their advancements into the airport and the damages they were doing to the installments.
The ASF tried to bring the situation under control by engaging the militants in exchange of fire, however, about one hour after the attack Pakistan army commandos reached at the site to launch a joint operation against the militants.
Spokesperson of Inter Services Public Relation, the administrative military organization within the Pakistan Defense Forces, later said that the army took charge of the operation and Karachi's corps commander would supervise it.
Cornered by army, the militants retreated to one area of the airport and one of them blew up himself outside the airport's engineering unit causing heavy damage to it.
Another blew himself up outside the airport's workshop.
After the involvement of army, the fierce firing by the militants also stopped.
Director General ISPR, Major General Asim Bajwa, wrote at twitter, "all passengers in planes evacuated to safer places. Hunt for terrorists on."
Qaim Ali Shah, chief minister Sindh province to which Karachi is a capital city, also reached at the airport with other officials.
The country's Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called DG Rangers and directed him to ensure safety of all the passengers in the waiting area of the airport.
He also directed the concerned official to speed up the operation.
Eyewitnesses said that the attackers coming on a vehicle were young men of short heights.
Some officials said that the terrorists were wearing ASF uniforms which made it easy for them to reach the airport.
Flight operation was suspended at the airport following the attack and the incoming planes were diverted to other cities.
Civil Aviation Authority also announced closure of the plane till 12 a.m. Wednesday morning to ensure security.
On directives of interior ministry, security was beefed up at all airports of the country.
All the roads leading to the airport were blocked and emergency declared in the main hospitals of the city.
No group or militant organization has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.