Taliban Militants Launch Second Attack On Pakistan Airport (UPDATED)
Tuesday June 10, 8:25 AM
More violence has broken out near Pakistan’s Jinnah International Airport, causing the nation’s busiest airport to shut down for the second time in two days. Following a fiery assault that left 29 dead, militants stormed the Airport Security Forces camp in Karachi Tuesday afternoon. The Taliban, which claimed responsibility for the Sunday night assault, confirmed that it was behind the Tuesday attack, declaring it a response to the actions of the Pakistani government.
“This wave of attacks will be continuing in retaliation for the shelling and atrocities of the government,” spokesman Shahidullah Shahid told CNN in a phone call. He added to Reuters that the Taliban will “go on carrying on many more such attacks.”
Two gunmen on motorbikes reportedly attacked the entrance of Karachi’s ASF camp, which is used as a training facility just outside the airport’s perimeter. According to media reports, the firefight lasted two hours. No casualties or injuries were reported, and the gunmen allegedly fled on foot after Pakistani airport security forces retaliated.
Departing and arriving flights were temporarily suspended at Jinnah International Airport, causing several flights to turn back or land at other airports, according to the Pakistan Civil Aviation Authority. Roads leading to the Karachi airport were also blocked Tuesday afternoon. The CAA confirmed via Twitter that flight operations have resumed at the airport. However, the agency added that the Benazir Bhutto International Airport in Islamabad is on red alert.
After 10 militants stormed Jinnah International Airport Sunday night with automatic weapons, rocket-propelled grenades and suicide bomb vests, killing at least 29 people — including the gunmen — and injuring 24 others, the Pakistani army attacked terrorist sites in the northwest tribal agency. The BBC reported that the raid destroyed nine militant camps and killed 15 insurgents.
According to The New York Times, seven bodies were discovered Tuesday in a storage area at the Jinnah International Airport, even though Pakistani authorities said Monday that the airport had been cleared. The discovery raised questions about the authorities’ handling of the Sunday night siege.
Monday June 9, 8:45 AM
As fires in Karachi raged on, the Taliban claimed responsibility for the deadly Pakistani airport attack Monday that killed 29 people and rocked a nation struggling to establish peace and security. A spokesperson for the terrorist group confirmed in a phone call with The New York Times that the assault, which took place overnight at the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, was retribution for “recent attacks by the [Pakistani] government.” The international airport is the largest in Pakistan, hosting more than 16 million people annually.
“We will continue carrying out such attacks,” a Taliban spokesperson told The Times. The spokesperson added that the terrorist group is attempting to negotiate peace talks with the Pakistani government.
Syed Qaim Ali Shah, the chief minister of Sindh Province, confirmed to the media that 10 gunmen were among the 29 people dead. The militants killed 11 Airport Security Force members, five local airline officers and three others. Three of the militants deployed suicide bombs.
The attack reportedly began around 10:20 p.m. local time and lasted between five and six hours. The militants were armed with automatic weapons, grenades and bombing vests. They used the gunfire and explosives on the runways after making it past security checkpoints at the airport’s old terminal and cargo area. According to USA Today, the attackers were disguised as airport security personnel.
According to The Guardian, the Pakistani army has launched airstrikes on the Taliban in North Waziristan Agency — a mountainous region near the Afghanistan border — in recent weeks after peace negotiations with the terrorist organization stalled. Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif initiated the peace talks earlier this year, assigning a four-member parliament committee to oversee the negotiations.
“It is necessary for the success of the talks to start this process with a good intention and it demands that the acts of terrorism be immediately stopped,” Sharif told parliament in January.
Sharif’s call for peace came after weeks of Taliban attacks rattled the nation’s northwest region. In January, Taliban members bombed a truck carrying Pakistan Army soldiers, killing at least 20 soldiers and injuring 30 others. Deadly attacks in nearby Afghanistan have also worried the Pakistani government.
In recent weeks, the peace talks fell apart. The Pakistani government ended its ceasefire with the Taliban in late April, launching airstrikes on militants in the northwestern region who the government believes are responsible for several attacks throughout the nation, including an April 9 bombing in Islamabad that killed 22 people.
Sunday June 8, 6:30 PM
At least 17 people have been killed as militants with grenades and automatic weapons launched an attack on Pakistan’s Karachi airport. The attackers stormed the airport late Sunday, exchanged fire with security personnel, and three large explosions were heard at various points during the assault. All flights from the airport have been suspended and all routes to it have been blocked, and nobody has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The militants reportedly used forged ID cards to enter a a terminal of the airport usually reserved for VIPs and cargo late Sunday night, and soon engaged in a firefight with security personnel. Two of the attackers reportedly managed to get inside a plane; it’s unclear what they planned to do with it, whether they had the ability to fly it, or whether they’re still in it. However, the attackers have damaged or destroyed at least three other aircraft, and television footage showed plumes of smoke rising up from the runway.
Two planes are currently stranded on the runway; Pakistani politician Farooq Sattar is reportedly on one of those planes. Local reporter Ali Kamran Chishti says that security forces have secured one of them.
Three large blasts have also been heard, and a spokesman for the Airport Security force says that the Pakistani military has been called in. One person has been wounded in addition to the five killed.
This story will be updated as the situation develops.