Karachi Airport stormed: Taliban claims responsibility

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Ten gunmen disguised as police guards attacked a terminal at Pakistan’s busiest airport with machine guns and a rocket launcher during a five-hour siege that killed 13 people as explosions echoed into the night, while security forces retaliated and killed all the attackers, officials said Monday.

The airport attack came as a separate suicide bombing in the country’s southwest killed 23 Shiite pilgrims returning from Iran, authorities said.

The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for an hours-long attack.

Speaking from an undisclosed location, the group’s commander Abdullah Bahar said the attack was carried out in revenge for the death of former chief Hakimullah Mehsud.

Mehsud was killed in U.S. drone strike in November 2013 in North Waziristan Agency.

Bahar vowed to launch more attacks in Pakistan.

“As long as we are breathing, our attacks will be continuing till the end of our lives,” he said.

The Pakistani Taliban, which is formally known as Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, has long been conducting an insurgency against the Pakistani government. It claimed responsibility for a December 2009 suicide bombing at the United States’ Forward Operating Base Chapman in Khost, Afghanistan.

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.

Rizwan Akhtar, the director general of paramilitary Rangers told reporters that the airport would be handed over to civilian authorities to resume normal operations later Monday. He said the attackers apparently were Uzbeks but authorities were still trying to determine their identities and nationalities.

“This act of terror is unforgivable,” Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Pakistan’s defense minister, told local television reporters. “The state will give an appropriate response to such cowardly acts of terror. Those who plan and those who execute the terrorist attacks will be defeated.”

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According to preliminary information from Pakistani security officials, the attack began when about five assailants gained access to Jinnah International Airport, apparently shooting their way through a gate near the old terminal. At least five others entered separately; they may have blasted their way through a wall near the cargo area, officials said.

Amjad Shah, a Karachi police official, said at least some of the militants were wearing uniforms used by security forces.

Once inside, the militants began lobbing grenades and took up positions near the runway and in the airport’s cargo area. One senior Pakistani intelligence official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss security issues, said some of the militants intended to hijack a plane but were unsuccessful.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether there was a connection between the airport assault and the Baluchistan attack. But the attacks were sadly familiar for Pakistan, which has seen thousands killed by militants in recent years.

Source: Reuters, AP, AFP, Yahoo! News Telegraph

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