A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban says the group was behind the five-hour assault on the international airport in Karachi that killed 18 people.
Shahidullah Shahid, the spokesman for Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, said in a statement Monday that the insurgents carried out the attack at the Jinnah International Airport.
Ten gunmen disguised as police guards attacked one of Pakistan’s biggest airports with machine guns and a rocket launcher during a five-hour siege that killed at least 26 people including the attackers.
Explosions echoed into the night, while security forces retaliated and killed all the 10 attackers in a night-long battle at one of the country’s most high-profile targets, officials said Monday.
The attack on Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, Pakistan’s sprawling commercial hub of 18 million people, took place as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government tries to engage Pakistani Taliban militants in negotiations to end years of fighting.
10.45 am: Pakistan Taliban claims responsibility for the terror attack at Karachi airport: Reports.
9.30 am: Security forces relaunch operation at Karachi airport as gunfire resumes, claim reports.
9.15 am: Fesh firing heard from inside Karachi airport; Pakistan media reports claim there are still two-three terrorists present inside the airport.
7.00 am: JuD chief Hafiz Saeed alleges Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi behind the Karachi terror attack.
#KarachiAirport is an attack on Pakistan. Modi’s new security team is behind this act of war by India. Nation knows the real enemy.
— Hafiz Muhammad Saeed (@HafizSaeedJUD) June 9, 2014
No one claimed responsibility for the attack on the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, named after the founder of Pakistan, nor the suicide bombing in Baluchistan province. However, the attacks come as government-led peace talks with the local Taliban faction and other militants have floundered in recent weeks.
The airport attack began late Sunday and ended before dawn Monday in Karachi, a sprawling port city on Pakistan’s southern coast, although officials said all the passengers had been evacuated. During the course of the attack, heavy gunfire and multiple explosions could be heard coming from the terminal, used for VIP flights and cargo, as militants and security forces battled for control. A major fire rose from the airport, illuminating the night sky in an orange glow as the silhouettes of jets could be seen.
The deadly operation was carried out by 10 militants, said the chief minister of Sindh province, Qaim Ali Shah.
“They were well trained. Their plan was very well thought out,” he told reporters. He said they intended to destroy some of the aircraft and buildings but were not able to.
After storming into the airport grounds, gunmen took shelter in two sections of the airport, said senior police officer Ghulam Qadir Thebo.
“The blast you heard a little while ago was when our police party went to pick up a body (and) one of the attackers blew himself up,” Thebo said
Local news channels reported Monday morning that authorities were still searching the airport buildings and intermittent firing was still being heard.
(With inputs from AP)