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26 killed as Pakistani Taliban militants attack Karachi airport

KARACHI: In a brazen attack, heavily armed Pakistani Taliban militants launched an assault on the country’s largest airport here in which at least 26 persons, including 12 terrorists, were killed even as the military today mounted another operation amid reports of fresh firing.

Explosions and gunfire rang out as the attackers wearing military uniforms and suicide vests, and armed with grenades and rocket launchers attacked the Jinnah International Airport in
Karachi, Pakistan’s biggest city and financial hub, late last night. According to reports, eight ASF personnel, two Rangers officials, one police officer and
three Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) officials are among the dead.

At least 26 people, including 12 terrorists, were reported to have been killed in one of the most daring attacks in recent years in the port city, the Express Tribune reported.
Twenty-four people have been injured in the attack so far as well. Earlier, the military had declared an end to its operation to secure the airport.
“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. The terrorists were cornered and killed after they attacked the old airport terminal building late last night, posing as Airport Security Force (ASF) personnel.
The ISPR spokesman said that army units from the nearby Malir cantonment base, ASF commandos, paramilitary rangers and police had carried out the joint operation to clear the old
airport area.

Sophisticated machine guns and rocket launchers were recovered from the slain terrorists who were being identified, he said. However, reports said that three militants were still present inside the airport as fresh firing was heard near Isphani Hangar, which is the aircraft overhaul facility of the airport.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility for the attack. “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. 6/9/2014 26 killed as Pakistani Taliban militants attack Karachi airport

He said that the attack was also carried out to avenge the killing of former Taliban chiefHakimullah Mehsud in a US drone strike. For nearly six hours the Jinnah international airport which is close to the old airport terminal was shut down and all flights diverted as heavy exchange of gunfire took place and thick plumes of smoke and fire could be seen rising from inside the runway area where the terrorists took cover in the hanger and engineering workshops.

Several loud explosions were also heard but officials confirmed that no aircraft was damaged nor any important assets or installations damaged during the operation. “Those martyred include the ASF personnel, civilian engineers and personnel of CAA and PIA and a police officer while a dozen have also been injured and are admitted to hospital,” said Sagheer Ahmed, the Sindh minister for health. Defence Minister Khawaja Asif described the attack as cowardly and said it was another example of how terrorists were trying to destroy important installations and locations of the
government. “But I can tell you these terrorists will not succeed in their aims and will be defeated,” Asif said. The attack was reminiscent of the deadly raid carried out by 15 TTP militants in May, 2011, on the Mehran naval airbase here in which the attackers killed some 18 navy personnel and damaged aircraft before being killed in a counter-attack.

-PTI