Karachi`s Jinnah International Airport back on track as terror siege ends, at least 30 dead
Zee Media Bureau
Karachi: After an all-night gun battle between the Taliban gunmen and Pakistan`s military that left at least 30 people dead, including 10 militants, at the VIP terminal (1) of country`s busiest Jinnah International Airport in Karachi which is also the financial hub, was reopened for business on Monday evening.
The attack is considered to be the most daring in recent years in the port city. Twenty-six people have also been injured in the attack.
Gunmen who were reportedly disguised as security guards attacked Karachi`s international airport in the middle of the night yesterday, and several explosions were heard in the fighting that followed.
According to reports, 11 ASF personnel, two Rangers officials, one police officer and four Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) officials are among the dead.
Meanwhile, Pakistan`s Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack today, which sparked the gun battle and threw travelers` plans into disarray.
"We carried out this attack on the Karachi airport and it is a message to the Pakistani government that we are still alive to react over the killings of innocent people in bomb attacks on their villages," TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said in a statement to the media, PTI reported.
The militant outfit also said that the attack was launched in retaliation to the Pakistan Army`s air strikes in areas along the Afghan border where the insurgents are based, reported the Reuters.
He said that the attack was also carried out to avenge the killing of former TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud in a US drone strike.
The 10 militants divided into two groups of five attacked the airport, resulting in the 13-hour gun battle with security forces involving army, paramilitary Rangers, police and Airport Security Force (ASF).
Also Read: Jinnah Airport is LIVE & BACK!”
Explosions and gunfire rang out as the attackers wearing military uniforms and suicide vests, and armed with grenades and rocket launchers attacked the airport.
"The security forces killed seven terrorists while three blew themselves up during the fight," Director General, Rangers, Major General Rizwan Akhtar told media.
Later, a spokesman for the paramilitary Rangers, Sibtain Rizvi, told reporters, "The attack is over and we have cleared the area of all militants."
Earlier in the day, the military had declared an end to its operation to secure the airport but were forced to relaunch an assault after fresh firing erupted.
Soon, the terrorists were cornered and shot down after they stormed the old airport terminal building posing as Airport Security Force (ASF) personnel.
"All 10 terrorists have been killed, the airport secured and they were unable to damage any aircraft or installations," a spokesman of the military`s Inter Services Pubic Relations (ISPR) said.
Sophisticated machine guns and rocket launchers were recovered from the slain terrorists who were being identified, he said.
A report on the Karachi airport attack, which was presented to Prime Minister Sharif today, revealed that terrorists wanted to destroy all the aircraft. It also disclosed that terrorists had entered the airport from two separate locations.
Meanwhile, Pakistan`s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) spokesman said that the air traffic control operations and other activities has been resumed with the revival of normal flight operations.
Soon after the Jinnah International Airport in Pakistan`s Karachi was reopened, Pakistan`s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) wrote on microblogging website twitter - “Jinnah Airport is LIVE & BACK!.”
— CAA Pakistan (@AirportPakistan) June 9, 2014
— CAA Pakistan (@AirportPakistan) June 9, 2014
Following the terror attack, the officials even stepped up security around nuclear facilities, military bases and government offices.
Nawz Sharif came to power last year promising to find a negotiated solution to years of violence but after the latest attack the resumption of the peace process seems to be unlikely.
Peace talks between the government and the Pakistani Taliban had failed in recent months, already dampening hopes of reaching a negotiated settlement with the insurgents, who continue attacks against government and security targets.
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