Gunmen planned to blow up plane in Pakistan

2014-06-25 19:10
(Fareed Khan, AP)

(Fareed Khan, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Peshawar - Holed up deep inside a Taliban-friendly neighbourhood, gunmen waited patiently for the passenger plane to approach the airport before raising their guns into the night sky and unleashing a hail of bullets to shoot it down.

Although only eight bullets hit the plane, one woman was killed and three crew members were wounded as the Airbus 310 plane carrying 178 passengers from Saudi Arabia landed in the northern Pakistani city of Peshawar on Tuesday night.

Airline officials said the gunmen had aimed specifically at the highly flammable fuel tank as they sought to blow up the aircraft, as well as the cockpit, to kill the pilot.

"It would have been a disaster had they hit the fuel tank or cockpit," said a senior Pakistan International Airlines official, who declined to be named because he was not authorised to discuss the matter with the press.

It was the third incident of violence to affect Pakistan's airports this month as international airlines review the safety of flying to a country with an increasingly violent Taliban insurgency.

Flying to Peshawar risky

On 8 June, a group of militants stormed Pakistan's biggest airport in Karachi in a commando-style attack that prompted the army to start bombarding Taliban positions in tribal areas.

In the second incident, a passenger plane carrying an anti-government preacher was diverted at the last minute from Islamabad to the eastern city of Lahore following violent clashes on the ground between his supporters and police.

The Civil Aviation Authority said all flights were suspended after the latest attack, but domestic flights resumed operations on Wednesday. International flights remained suspended.

"After last night's attack, I don't think international airlines would take the risk to come to Peshawar," said a senior CAA official who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the matter.

Positioned outside the perimeter fence of the airport, militants opened fire on the plane roughly six minutes before it landed at Peshawar's Bacha Khan International Airport.

The bullets came from the areas of Badhber and Mashukhel near Peshawar, which are considered insecure and full of Taliban supporters.

"The aircraft is very strong and can withstand pressure at 36 000 feet, but it's surprising how easily the bullets penetrated the plane," said one security official.

It was unclear what type of weapons the militants used. The security official said the bullets were of a larger calibre than those used by AK-47 Kalashnikov rifles, the weapon of choice of most Taliban fighters.

Tough landing

The captain of the plane described his frantic efforts to land the aircraft safely as bullets whizzed by.

"I saw several bullets flashing towards the cockpit and fuel tank and tried to avoid them," the senior PIA official quoted the captain as telling ground staff after landing the airplane.

"The cockpit and fuel tank were safe but eight bullets hit the right side of the plane, near the service door. The second engine, which was close to the fuel tank, was also hit."

One bullet also hit one of the passengers, Matnoon Begum, striking her in the thigh and passing through her body before exiting though the throat. She died on the way to the hospital.

"Her nine-year-old daughter was sitting next to her, but she was all right," the airline official said.

Police said they combed the area near the airport and arrested about 200 people in connection with the shooting. No one immediately claimed responsibility and the Taliban were not available for comment.

The attack came after the militants announced they would step up attacks against high-profile targets in Pakistan in response to the army's military operation in the tribal areas.

The airline official added: "There are two options now: either stop night landings at the airport or close the airport for all types of operations due to security concerns. The federal government would make the decision in this regard."

Read more on:    taliban  |  pakistan  |  air travel  |  aviation
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Hottie of the day: Charlotte

Meet our hottie of the day, Charlotte. She feels sexiest after a good workout at the gym!

 
 

Men24.com

This is why guys shouldn’t be in photos
BMW drift battle: M235i vs. speedway bike
Want to start talking dirty?
And this year's Miss Bumbum title goes to...

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

20% off ALL TV Series

Choose from 1000’s of the hottest TV Series . While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

Enjoy the view because as from tomorrow you are going to need to come back down to earth and join the party. In the meantime use...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.