In a brazen attack, heavily armed Pakistani Taliban militants launched a major assault on the country’s largest airport here in which at least 28 people, including 10 terrorists, were killed before security forces today eventually regained control over the key facility.
The 10 militants divided into two groups of five attacked the Jinnah International Airport late last night, resulting in a six-hour gun battle with security forces involving army, paramilitary Rangers, police and Airport Security Force.
Explosions and gunfire rang out as the attackers wearing military uniforms and suicide vests, and armed with grenades and rocket launchers attacked the airport in Karachi, Pakistan’s biggest city and financial hub.
According to reports, eight ASF personnel, two Rangers officials, one police officer and three Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) officials are among the dead.
Twenty-eight people, including the 10 terrorists, were killed in the attack, one of the most daring in recent years in the port city.
Twenty-four people have also been injured.
“The airport has been cleared. The security forces killed seven terrorists while three blew themselves up during the fight,” Director General, Rangers, Major General Rizwan Akhtar told media.
“Very soon we will hand over the airport to the civilian aviation authority to start its normal operations,” he said.
Earlier, the military had declared an end to its operation to secure the airport but were forced to relaunch an assault after fresh firing erupted.
“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 shot down after they stormed the old airport terminal building 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 area.
Sophisticated machine guns and rocket launchers were recovered from the slain terrorists who were being identified, he said.
The outlawed 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.
He said that the attack was also carried out to avenge the killing of former TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud in a US drone strike.