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Asia VIDEO/PhOtOs-Terrorists Attack Karachi Airport

Pakistani Taliban Claim Responsibility for Attack on Karachi Airport that Killed 28

KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) 9June 2014



Gunmen disguised as police guards attacked a terminal at Pakistan's busiest airport on Sunday with machine guns and a rocket launcher during a five-hour siege that left 28 people dead as explosions echoed into the night


The Pakistani Taliban on Monday claimed responsibility for a brazen five-hour assault on the country's busiest airport that saw gunmen disguised as police guards storm the international terminal in Karachi, set off explosions and kill 28 people.

The Taliban said the assault on the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, the capital of southern Sindh province, was in revenge for the killing last November of the militant group's leader in a U.S. drone strike.

The claim further diminished prospects for a resumption of government-led peace talks with the Taliban. Those talks floundered in recent weeks and the Taliban have called off a cease-fire they declared during negotiations. Since then, Pakistani troops have carried out airstrikes in the country's troubled northwest to target militant hideouts, killing dozens of suspected militants. Residents claim several civilians were also killed in the strikes.

The Karachi assault started late Sunday when 10 gunmen, at least some disguised as policemen, opened fire with machine-guns and rocket launchers, triggering a gunbattle with police during which all the attackers were killed, said Rizwan Akhtar, the chief of Pakistan's elite paramilitary Rangers.

Heavy gunfire and multiple explosions were heard coming from the terminal, used for VIP flights and cargo, as militants and security forces battled for control. A major fire rose from the airport, illuminating the night sky in an orange glow as the silhouettes of jets could be seen. As dawn broke Sunday, smoke could still be seen billowing in the air.


UPDATE/PHOTOS/VIDEO:

Taliban gunmen disguised as police guards 'intended to hijack planes' as they kill at least 27 during five-hour siege at Pakistan's largest international airport
  • Ten gunmen attacked Jinnah International Airport in Karachi with machine guns and a rocket launcher
  • The Pakistani Taliban suggested their mission was to hijack a passenger plane
  • The airport, the largest in Pakistan, had to be evacuated during the five-hour siege which start late Sunday evening
  • Flames and explosions lit up the night sky above the airport as the armed group launched the high-profile assault
  • At least three loud explosions heard during night-time attack as militants wearing suicide vests blew themselves up
  • The Airport Security Force (ASF) sealed off the airport and army commandos have been called in to battle
  • The gunmen are said to have killed 26 people - including ASF personnel - while at least another 15 were injured
  • All ten of the gunmen were killed during the attack, for which the Pakistani Taliban later claimed responsibility
Gunmen disguised as police guards attacked a terminal at Pakistan's busiest airport on Sunday with machine guns and a rocket launcher during a five-hour siege that left 26 people dead as explosions echoed into the night.

The Pakistani Taliban, an alliance of insurgent groups fighting to topple the government and set up a sharia state, later claimed responsibility, saying it was in response to army attacks along the Afghan border.

The attack on the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, began late Sunday and continued on into the dawn hours of Monday, although officials said all the passengers had been evacuated.

Scroll down for video



Smoke rises after militants launched an early morning assault at Jinnah International Airport in Karachi in Pakistan, killing at least 26 people



Pakistani policemen move a wounded colleague outside the Karachi airport terminal following an assault by militants



Pakistani troops take positions in an armoured vehicle at the Karachi airport terminal



Members of the Bomb Disposal Squad inspect and defuse explosives and
hand grenades along a sidewalk outside Jinnah International Airport in Karachi




Taliban militants disguised as security forces stormed Pakistan's busiest airport on
Sunday and at least 27 people were killed in a night-long battle at one of the country's most high-profile targets


The Pakistani Taliban said they carried out the attack in response to air strikes in their strongholds near the Afghan border and suggested their mission was to hijack a passenger plane.

'The main goal of this attack was to damage the government, including by hijacking planes and destroying state installations,' said Shahidullah Shahid, a Taliban spokesman.

'This was just an example of what we are capable of and there is more to come. The government should be ready for even worse attacks.'

During the course of the attack, heavy gunfire and multiple explosions could be heard coming from the terminal, used for VIP flights and cargo, as militants and security forces battled for control.

A major fire rose from the airport, illuminating the night sky in an orange glow as the silhouettes of jets could be seen. The deadly operation was carried out by 10 militants, said the Chief Minister of Sindh province, Qaim Ali Shah.

'They were well trained. Their plan was very well thought out,' he told reporters. He said they intended to destroy some of the aircraft and buildings







Pakistani security officials stand over the remains of the suspected militants after the attack
late on Sunday night and Airport Security Force personnel show arms and ammunition recovered from the militants





Pakistani troops arrive to take position at the Karachi airport terminal after the militants' assault in Karachi on Sunday night



Rescue workers move a soldier, who was wounded in an attack at Jinnah International Airport, outside Jinnah hospital in Karachi


The attacks come after government-led peace talks with the local Taliban faction and other militants have floundered in recent weeks.

'It is a message to the Pakistan government that we are still alive to react over the killings of innocent people in bomb attacks on their villages,' said Shahidullah Shahid, a Taliban spokesman.
The spokesman for the Pakistani military, General Asim Bajwa, said on Twitter that no aircraft were damaged and that as a precautionary measure, security forces were sweeping the airport before operations would be returned to the Civil Aviation Authority and airport police.

At least some of the gunmen wore the uniforms of the Airport Security Force that protects the nation's airports, said an official who briefed journalists near the airport. He said all were strapped with explosives.




Pakistani security forces, some arriving by helicopter, surrounded Jinnah International Airport
- one of the country's busiest and the gateway to the major port city - on Sunday night




Fire illuminates the sky above Karachi airport terminal where
security forces were fighting with attackers Sunday night, but no planes were actually destroyed





Burning wreck:
TV footage appeared to show aircraft ablaze on the tarmac of Jinnah International Airport,
but a spokesperson for the Pakistani military said no aircraft were damaged





Volunteers look at dead bodies of people killed during an attack by unknown gunmen on Jinnah International Airport on Sunday night




Pakistani Rangers check ambulance staff at the boundry wall after
suspected militants attacked Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, Pakistan, on Sunday






At least some of the gunmen wore the uniforms of the Airport Security Force that protects the nation's airports



Pakistani Police, left, and Airport Security Force personnel, right,
patrol after an operation against suspected Islamic militants at Jinnah International Airport





An army spokesman said all 10 of the gunmen who attacked Jinnah International Airport's old terminal had also been killed




Attack: Pakistani commandos get ready to enter the airport terminal in Karachi following attacks by unknown gunmen on Sunday night




Armed response: Pakistani security troops rush to Karachi airport terminal following attacks by
unknown gunmen on Sunday night


He said one of them tried to capture a vehicle used by the Civil Aviation Authority and when a guard shot at him, the explosives strapped to his body went off. The official said another attacker also blew up after being shot at by security forces.

The official described himself as being with one of the country's intelligence agencies but declined to give his name.

After storming into the airport grounds, gunmen took shelter in two sections of the airport, said senior police officer Ghulam Qadir Thebo.

'The blast you heard a little while ago was when our police party went to pick up a body (and) one of the attackers blew himself up,' Thebo said.

Authorities seized four machine guns and a rocket launcher, Thebo said. He said the billowing smoke and flames was from oil that had caught fire.

Dr. Seemi Jamali from Jinnah Hospital in Karachi said 18 bodies had been brought to the hospital from the fighting.

She said 11 were Airport Security Force personnel, one was a member of the paramilitary Rangers, one was from the police, one was an employee of the Civil Aviation Authority and another was from the state-run Pakistan International Airlines.
An army spokesman said all 10 of the gunmen who attacked Jinnah International Airport's old terminal had also been killed.




Regional Instability:
Jinnah International Airport is in Karachi, Pakistan, the largest city in the South Asian nation which borders long-time adversary, India



Authorities diverted incoming flights and suspended all flight operations. A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority said the airport would be closed until at least Monday night.

Karachi is Pakistan's largest city and has been the site of frequent militant attacks in the past. It is the country's economic heart and any militant activity targeting the airport likely would strike a heavy blow at foreign investment in the country.
Cricketer turned politician Imran Khan tweeted this morning: 'Khi airport terrorist attack shocking. Continuing security & intel lapses reflect a failure of the govt's National Counter Terrorism Policy.'
In May 2011, militants waged an 18-hour siege at a naval base in Karachi, killing 10 people in an assault that deeply embarrassed the armed forces.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Sunday night's attack.

Pakistan's government has been trying to negotiate a peace deal with local Taliban fighters and other militants mostly based in the northwest who have been waging war against the government. But the talks have had little success, raising fears of a backlash of attacks across the country.

Security officials in Karachi had feared that if the talks broke down, their city would be a likely spot for any militant retribution. The Pakistani Taliban and their allies increasingly are gaining a foothold in Karachi.

The terrorist group has been fighting an Islamist insurgency for more than a decade and has carried out a number of spectacular attacks in Karachi.



Pakistan's government has been trying to negotiate a peace deal with local
Taliban fighters and other militants mostly based in the northwest who have been waging war against the government




Pakistani security personnel surround the Karachi airport following an attack by
unknown gunmen disguised as police guards who stormed a terminal used for VIPs and cargo on Sunday night




Smoke rises from the Karachi airport terminal after the militants' assault on Sunday night




Armed response: The attack happened at a terminal not generally used for commercial flights but for special VIP flights and for cargo


The city, Pakistan’s largest, has been a hiding place for a number of senior Taliban and Al Qaeda figures. Peace talks between the government and Taliban that began this year have stalled, with the military recently resorting to air strikes on militant hideouts, killing at least 75 people.

A radical faction linked to tribal leader Khalid Mehsud is widely considered the most important of the various groups that comprise the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, which has fought the government since 2007 to implement its version of sharia law.
His forces recently split from the main Taliban body and threatened new violence. An airport spokesman said the attack was focused near a terminal not generally used for commercial flights but for VIPs and cargo flights.

Attacks have taken place before on airports in Pakistan, but this is believed to have been the first time that a civilian airport rather a military one has been attacked.

At least one plane filled with passengers was unable to take off as the attack began. Farooq Sattar, a senior figure with the Muttahida Qaumi Movement political party, was on board, and said the aircraft reached the runway only to turn back as the sounds of gunfire exploded around them.

‘They have told us we are safer on board and so the doors will stay shut,’ he said. ‘But this aircraft is full of fuel and so are the other planes here. If, God forbid, the terrorists come here then there could be a terrible fire.’




Former cricketer Imran Khan, who is now chairman of political party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf,
today criticised the country's government on Twitter and blamed the attack on 'security and intel lapses'




Karachi airport is under attack. According to news reports coming in from Pakistan,
up to a dozen gunmen have entered the terminal and are fighting security services




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