At least 23 dead in attack on Karachi airport
At least 23 persons, including 10 terrorists have been killed when heavily armed militants attacked the Jinnah International Airport’s old terminal in Pakistan’s financial capital Karachi
The terrorists were corned and killed after they attacked the old airport terminal building late last night, posing as Airport Security Force (ASF) personnel.
“All 10 terrorists have been killed, the airport secured and they were unable to damage any aircraft or installations,” a spokesman of the Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.
He 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 terrorists who were being identified, the spokesman said.
For nearly six hours the Jinnah international airport which is close to the old airport terminal was shut down and all flights diverted as exchange of gunfire took place and heavy plumes of smoke and fire could be seen rising from inside the runaway area where the terrorists took cover in the hanger and engineering workshops.
During the ordeal several loud explosions were also heard but the spokesman confirmed that no aircraft was damaged nor any important assets or installations damaged during the operation.
Till the filing of this report no one had claimed responsibility for the attack.
Sagheer Ahmed, the Sindh minister for health, told reporters that 13 people lost their lives in the terrorist attack.
“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,” he said.
Defense 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 attack carried out by some 15 militants of the Tehreek-e-Taliban in May, 2011 on the Mehran naval airbase here in which the attackers killed some 18 personnel and damaged aircrafts before being killed in a counter attack.
A spokesman for the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) said that passengers and visitors at the Jinnah international airport which is close to the old terminal building had been shifted to safe and secure locations.
“The airport runaway is secured now and the passengers and visitors safe. The operation to apprehend these attackers is expected to end soon,” he said.
Immediately after the daring attack all flight operations were suspended from the Jinnah international airport with flights not taking off and those scheduled to land in Karachi being diverted to Nawabshah and Quetta or turning back to their original destinations.
“Security high alert has also been sounded off at the other airports of the country,” a ASF spokesman said.
Television footages showed heavy firing going on at the old terminal building and loud explosions were also heard on the runaway.
Reports confirmed that a young PIA engineer, Fakhar was also killed in the attack as he was on duty at one of the engineering workshops where aircrafts are overhauled.
Sindh health minister, Sagheer Ahmed said 10 bodies including seven personnel of the ASF and 15 injured had been brought to the Jinnah hospital. “Our reports state that so far 13 people have been killed in the attack,” he said.