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Saudi airline suspends operation to Peshawar

Saudi airline suspends operation to PeshawarSaudi Arabia’s flag carrier has became the fourth airline from the Gulf to suspend its flights to Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar after a Taliban attack on a PIA plane that left one passenger dead this week.

An aviation official said that Saudi Arabian Airlines had diverted its Peshawar-bound flights to Islamabad since Wednesday, a day after the attack.

A Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) Boeing Flight 756 landed safely after Taliban militants fired at the plane at Peshawar airport on Tuesday but the incident has created serious security issues for different airlines. “Now the (Saudi) airline has decided to suspend operations to Peshawar,” the official said. He hoped that the decision will be revoked once the security situation improves. Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways and Emirates have already stopped operations to and from Peshawar.

The city was a major destination for airlines from the Middle East as hundreds and thousands of people from Pakistan’s northwest tribal areas work in the Gulf region. The security forces are making efforts to apprehend the individuals involved in the attack.

A security official said that one of the masterminds has been identified as Shahid, who is linked with the Taliban and is hiding in Khyber tribal agency. “We are regularly in touch with the tribal administration to track down and arrest him,” he said.

The official also said the government was considering to fix a Rs 10 million reward for the arrest or killing of Shahid. The security of Peshawar’s Bacha Khan International Airport is a headache for officials as it is surrounded by residential areas and located near the Afghan border in Khyber where al-Qaeda-linked militants are active.