The Pakistani Taliban have claimed that they were behind the attack at Jinnah International Airport, Karachi, the country’s largest airport, that killed at least twenty-nine people, including the ten terrorists.
The airport is fairly centrally located in the city of approximately 18 million.
The dead are mainly security guards from the Airport Security Force, Police and Army Rangers, but also included four airline workers (Airline unspecified but likely to be PIA) and the ten attackers; at least 14 people were, also, wounded.
The raid began at approximately 2300 local time (1800 GMT) on Sunday, at a terminal used for cargo and VIP flights, with the attackers divided into two teams of five.
The attack appears to have been well-coordinated and the attackers well armed; a number of the dead terrorists were found to be wearing ‘suicide bomb vests’ and others are believed to have detonated them. As is usual with such attacks, the authorities have suggested that some members of the terrorist group may have been ‘foreign nationals’.
The authorities shut Jinnah shortly after the assault began, and diverted flights other airports.
An eye witness reported explosions and sustained gunfire, near the cargo area, with smoke and fires. The fire and explosions caused damage to cargo and buildings but no aircraft were, apparently, damaged.
Following reports of fresh violence early this morning with an explosion at 0800, Army officials have now claimed that the siege is now over, and flights were set to resume this afternoon.
Although the cargo and VIP terminal are relatively close to the main passenger terminals, cargo areas tend to have a lower security presence and it is, as yet, uncertain how access was made i.e. the use of fake identification or, simply, cutting through the perimeter fence. the BBC has reported that the terrorists entered through the airport’s Fokker Gate after being dropped off by a high sided van; this doesn’t really make much sense if the terrorists were ‘heavily armed’ Reuters have reported that the terrorists were dressed as security personnel and were armed with automatic weapons and rocket propelled grenades (RPG), and that they entered the airport with one group creating a diversion at Fokker Gate whilst the second made for the VIP and cargo terminal area. RPGs were reportedly fired at aircraft, but missed, that sounds like a major ‘what didn’t go well’ on the terrorist feedback report.
Secondly, attacking a cargo terminal doesn’t make that much sense if you are a terrorist. Admittedly, it’s probably much easier to get into than a passenger terminal but an awful lot of effort appears to have been expended for relatively little impact unless, of course, the aim was to place IEDs/explosives and/or weapons in cargo or aircraft for later use.
The attack comes as peace negotiations initiated by Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the Pakistan Taliban ‘Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan’ (TTP) have stalled, and a fractionation within the TTP following Pakistan military attacks in North Waziristan; al-Qaeda and Uzbek fighters, from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), are believed to have splintered from less hard-core elements of the TTP.
The BBC has reported that a Pakistani Taliban commander, Abdullah Bahar, said the attack was retaliation for the death of former chief Hakimullah Mehsud, who was killed in a US drone strike, in November 2013, in North Waziristan
A spokesman for the group, Shahidullah Shahid, said the airport attack was “a message to the Pakistan government that we are still alive to react over the killings of innocent people in bomb attacks on their villages“.
Karachi has been a frequent target for attacks by the TTP and Uzbek fighters have undertaken similar high profile attacks including the 2011 Mehran naval Base attack in which ten personnel were killed and two aircraft destroyed during a seventeen hour siege. Uzbek fighters also claimed responsibility for the 2012 attack on Peshawar Airport.
This Asian woman reporter… hehe