Pakistan's Jinnah International Airport Comes Under Attack, Again
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.
Tensions between the Taliban and the Pakistani government have come to head in recent months after peace talks between the two opposing groups stalled. The Taliban observed a one-month ceasefire in March for the peace negotiations, but ended the deal in mid-April after claiming the government was ignoring its demands. The terrorist group has said that it is still committed to striking a peace deal with the Pakistani government.
Both groups retaliated once the ceasefire ended. Over the last two months, the Pakistani army has launched military airstrikes and ground operations in North Waziristan Agency, a mountainous northwest region that borders Afghanistan and is home to the al-Qaeda-linked terrorist group. Taliban militants have been the targets of these attacks.
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.
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