Pakistan airport cleared of militants after 28 killed

2014-06-09 10:13
Pakistani policemen show seized weapons after militants attacked Jinnah International Airport in Karachi. (Asif Hassan, AFP)

Pakistani policemen show seized weapons after militants attacked Jinnah International Airport in Karachi. (Asif Hassan, AFP)

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

Karachi - Twenty-eight people were killed as Pakistan's military fought an all-night battle on Monday with Taliban gunmen who besieged Karachi airport armed with rocket launchers and suicide vests, leaving a nascent peace process in tatters.

Ten militants were among the dead, officials said, as Pakistan's biggest city witnessed a return of the kind of spectacular offensive waged before by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) during an insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives.

The attack at Karachi's Jinnah International Airport began just before midnight on Sunday and around dawn, the military said that all 10 attackers had been killed.

Some of the gunmen were dressed in army uniform, as authorities put their mangled bodies, assault rifles, grenades and rocket launchers on display for the press. At least three blew up their suicide vests, witnesses said, and one head on display was decapitated.

But after authorities initially declared the airport cleared around dawn, an AFP reporter witnessed fresh gunfire break out inside the airport - where explosions and fires had erupted during the night - prompting security forces to relaunch the operation.

"The attack is over and we have cleared the area of all militants," a spokesperson for the paramilitary Rangers, Sibtain Rizvi, told reporters later after nearly 12 hours of fighting in all.

The bodies of the 18 victims of the Taliban assault - including eight airport security guards and four workers from Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) - were taken to a Karachi hospital where another 26 wounded people were being treated, a hospital official said.

PIA spokesperson Mashoor Tajwar said no airline passengers were caught up in the incident.

"None of the passengers were trapped in the building, we had diverted all the flights to Lahore and Nawabshah," he told AFP. Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority said normal flight operations would resume at Karachi on Monday afternoon.

'Just the beginning'

The TTP said the brazen attack was in revenge for its late leader Hakimullah Mehsud, who was killed in a US drone strike in November.

TTP spokesperson Shahidullah Shahid also dismissed the Pakistani government's recent offer of a new round of peace talks as a ruse, and promised more attacks to come.

"Pakistan used peace talks as a tool of war," he told AFP.

"We have yet to take revenge for the deaths of hundreds of innocent tribal women and children in Pakistani air strikes.

"It's just the beginning, we have taken revenge for one [Mehsud], we have to take revenge for hundreds."

Talks to end the TTP's bloody seven-year insurgency in Pakistan have been underway since February, after Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif returned to power last year, but little clear progress has resulted.

The assault will raise fresh concerns about Pakistan's shaky security situation, and questions about how militants were able to penetrate the airport, which serves one of the world's biggest cities.

"The federal government is not mentally, psychologically and ideologically prepared to take action against the militants," said political and defence analyst Hasan Askari, who said that Sharif's peace drive looked in bigger doubt than ever.

"If the government still insists on dialogue with the militants, then they will run into difficulties with the military," Askari warned.

'Thank God I am alive'

Officials said the gunmen entered from two sides of the airport at around 23:00 on Sunday - the terminal used for the hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, and an engineering section close to an old terminal that is no longer in use.

An AFP reporter witnessed three huge blasts as suicide bombers detonated their explosives.

Smoke was seen billowing from the airport as fires raged close to planes parked on the runway, while militants clashed with the airport's security force who were backed by police, paramilitary squads and elite commandos.

Taliban militants have carried out a series of similar raids since rising up against the Pakistani state in 2007.

In 2011, Taliban gunmen attacked the Mehran naval base, which lies close to the Karachi airport, destroying two US-made Orion aircraft and killing 10 personnel in a 17-hour siege.

The group also carried out a raid on Pakistan's military headquarters in the garrison city of Rawalpindi in 2009, leaving 23 dead including 11 troops and three hostages.

The latest trouble came with tensions already high in Karachi over the arrest in Britain of the exiled leader of Pakistan's MQM party, which dominates politics in the vast city - Pakistan's economic hub and main port through which Nato has long shipped supplies to Afghanistan.
Read more on:    taliban  |  nato  |  nawaz sharif  |  pakistan  |  pakistan attacks
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

 
/Fashion
 

Watch: 5 skills to improve your BMX riding

Learn some great skills that will help your riding on the road and on the track.

 
 

Where were you when you last felt alive?

Tips on how to set your fitness goals
This all-terrain vehicle is badass!
The TRUTH about painkillers and exercise
WIN! Where were you when you last felt alive?

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Jobs in Western Cape region

Technical Manager

Western Cape
Cozens Recruitment Group ( Western Cape)
R30 000 - R35 000 Per Month

Customer Service Rep

Cape Town Northern Suburbs
DAV Professional Placement Group
R180 000 - R210 000 Per Year

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

Deal of the week!

Save R1200 on the Samsung 48” smart full HD LED television now only R8799. Buy now!

Toys 4 for the price of 3

Buy 4 toys and get the cheapest FREE! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Mind blowing prices – As seen on TV

Get mind blowing prices on 1000’s of products! Shop now.

Save 20% on Nivea beauty products!

Buy any two Nivea beauty products and save 20%. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Save up to R1000 on electronics!

Get mind blowing savings on top electronic products. 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

You may be spending too much time organising and trying to control things to make sure everything is perfect instead of just...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.