Middle East

Saturday 2 August 2014

Pakistani Taliban attack airport in Karachi, 26 dead

Syed Raza Hassan

Published 09/06/2014|06:41

  • Share
A Pakistani soldier takes position at Jinnah International Airport  where security forces are fighting with gunmen who disguised themselves as police guards and stormed a terminal used for VIPs and cargo, Sunday night, June 8, 2014, in Pakistan. The airport attack still was ongoing early Monday in Karachi, a sprawling port city on the southern coast of Pakistan, although officials said all the passengers had been evacuated.  (AP Photo/Shakil Adil)
A Pakistani soldier takes position at Jinnah International Airport. AP
Police commandos take up positions as they arrive at Jinnah International Airport in Karachi June 9, 2014. Gunmen attacked one of Pakistan's biggest airports in Karachi on Sunday, killing at least five people, police said. REUTERS/Athar Hussain (PAKISTAN - Tags: TRANSPORT CIVIL UNREST MILITARY)
Police commandos take up positions as they arrive at Jinnah International Airport in Karachi. Reuters
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. AP
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. AP

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.

  • Share
  • Go To

The assault on Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, Pakistan's sprawling commercial hub of 18 million people, took place as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government tries to engage Taliban militants in talks to end years of fighting.

The attack began just before midnight when 10 gunmen wearing military uniforms shot their way into the airport's old terminal used mainly for charter and executive flights.

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

"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 attack all but destroys prospects for significant peace talks with the government of Sharif, who came to power last year promising to find a negotiated solution to years of violence.

At the airport, gun battles went on for five hours and television pictures showed fire raging as ambulances ferried casualties away. At least three loud explosions were heard as militants wearing suicide vests blew themselves up.

Twitter reaction to the attack was immediate with many sending prayers to those security members who died in the line of duty.

But creating awareness of the event - and the damage and casualties caused as a result - was forefront for Twitterati, with vivid imagery and shocking footage retweeted across the social platform. 

A number of these images can be seen here.

Pakistani commandos get ready to enter Karachi airport terminal following attacks by unknown gunmen on Sunday night, June 8, 2014, in Pakistan. Gunmen stormed an airport terminal used for VIPs and cargo in Pakistan's largest city on Sunday night, killing and wounding scores of people, officials said. (AP Photo/Shakil Adil)
Pakistani commandos get ready to enter Karachi airport terminal following attacks by unknown gunmen on Sunday night
A Pakistani soldier takes position at Jinnah International Airport  where security forces are fighting with gunmen who disguised themselves as police guards and stormed a terminal used for VIPs and cargo, Sunday night, June 8, 2014, in Pakistan. The airport attack still was ongoing early Monday in Karachi, a sprawling port city on the southern coast of Pakistan, although officials said all the passengers had been evacuated.  (AP Photo/Shakil Adil)
A Pakistani soldier takes position at Jinnah International Airport. AP
ATTENTION EDITORS - VISUAL COVERAGE OF SCENES OF INJURY OR DEATH
An armoured personnel carrier (APC) carrying a policeman in plainclothes who was killed during firing, is driven to the hospital, from Jinnah International Airport in Karachi June 9, 2014.  Gunmen attacked one of Pakistan's biggest airports on Sunday and at least 23 people were killed, including all 10 of the attackers, media reported. REUTERS/Athar Hussain (PAKISTAN - Tags: TRANSPORT CIVIL UNREST MILITARY) 
TEMPLATE OUT
An armoured personnel carrier (APC) carrying a policeman in plainclothes who was killed during firing, is driven to the hospital, from Jinnah International Airport in Karachi

By dawn on Monday, the army said the airport had been secured but heavy smoke rose above the building.

"Ten militants aged between 20 and 25 have been killed by security forces," said a spokesman for the paramilitary Rangers force. "A large cache of arms and ammunition has been recovered from the militants."

Pakistan's paramilitary force said that the attackers were ethnic Uzbeks. Pakistani officials often blame foreign militants holed up in lawless areas on the Afghan border for staging attacks alongside the Pakistani Taliban around the country.

"Three militants blew themselves up and seven were killed by security forces," Rizwan Akhtar, the regional head of the paramilitary Rangers, said in televised remarks. "The militants appear to be Uzbek."

Officials said no aircraft had been damaged.

Earlier, officials said all flights had been diverted.

One passenger on board a flight on the Karachi airport runway live tweeted his terrifying ordeal.

Syed Saim A. Rizvi caused quite a stir on Twitter as he congratulated the Pakistan Army for the way in which they handled the situation.

syed.JPG 

Peace talks between the government and the Pakistani Taliban have failed in recent months, dampening hopes of reaching a negotiated settlement with the insurgency, which continues attacks against government and security targets.

Pakistan's Taliban are allied with but separate from the Afghan Taliban.

Reuters

Read More

Classifieds

CarsIreland

Independent Shopping.ie

Meet, chat and connect with
singles in your area

Independent Shopping.ie

Meet Singles Now

Findajob

Apps

Now available on

Editors Choice

Also in World News