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Monday, June 9, 2014

29 killed as Taliban hit Karachi airport

At least 29 people were killed and 26 others injured after heavily-armed terrorists disguised as security forces stormed Karachi airport--Pakistan's busiest --on Sunday night and exposed the vulnerability of the nuclear-armed country's vital installations.

The latest Pakistani Taliban assault was the most daring since they had struck at a naval base in Karachi in May 2011. It came despite a split within the Taliban ranks and demonstrated their ability to carry out coordinated attacks at will.

Officials said the slain included 10 attackers, who stormed the international airport just before midnight. They were disguised as Airport Security Force (ASF) personnel. Explosions and gunfire continued across the airport throughout the night. But no aircraft was damaged and passengers were evacuated and all flights diverted. The siege ended at dawn on Monday when all attackers were killed.

Karachi's Jinnah Hospital spokesperson Seemi Jamali said 19 bodies were brought there. They included 11 airport security personnel, a paramilitary ranger, a civil aviation official and five Pakistan International Airlines employees. "Anoth

er 26 people were wounded with five of them critical,'' she said.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack and threatened more assaults to send a message to the government. "We are still alive and strong enough to react to the killings of innocent people in aerial strikes on their villages," said Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid.

He said the attack on the airport was aimed to avenge slain Taliban chief Hakimullah Mehsud's killing in a US drone attack in November last year. Shahid dismissed the talks' offer.

"Pakistan used peace talks as a tool of war. It killed hundreds of innocent tribal women and children. This is our first attack to avenge the death of Hakimullah Mehsud," he said. "We are yet to avenge deaths of hundreds of innocent tribal women and children in Pakistani air strikes.'' The Taliban warned it is just the beginning. "We have taken revenge for one, we have to take revenge for hundreds," its spokesperson said.

"We will continue carrying out such attacks.'' In Karachi, paramilitary Pakistani Rangers director general Maj Gen Rizwan Ak

Jhtar said the attackers appeared to be of Uzbek, Tajik and Afghan origin.

"They came in two groups of five each. While seven were killed by the forces, three attackers blew themselves up.'' An intelligence official said it appeared the terrorists aimed to hijack a plane that passengers were boarding at the main terminal.

Sources said an initial investigation report submitted to Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif revealed the terrorists wanted to destroy airplanes and paralyze air traffic operations.

A Rangers' officer told reporters the attackers were carrying Indian weapons.
But Maj Gen Akhtar dismissed alleged Indian involvement as "too early and premature''. Modi team behind strike: Hafiz Saeed J uD chief Hafiz Saeed, who is believed to be the mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, took to Twitter to allege that Narendra Modi's "new security team" is responsible for the attack on the Karachi airport. Saeed said Pakistan knew who the "real enemy" was and called on the Pakistani government to "show some spine" and "end exchange of gifts with India". AGENCIES


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