Karachi Airport closed by new Taliban attack

Jun 10, 2014

Flights have been suspended at Karachi Airport, where security forces came under fire again today


Flights in and out of Karachi's Jinnah international airport have been suspended again today after it came under fresh attack from Taliban forces.

According to reports, gunmen targeted the entrance of a training base used by the Airports Security Force, located just outside the airfield's northern perimeter. Television beamed pictures of security forces searching the scrubland that separates the airport from Pehelwan Goth, a notorious slum that is believed to be a terrorist lair.

The Taliban launched a well-coordinated assault on the airport – the biggest in Pakistan – on Sunday night when two teams of five gunmen engaged in a six-hour gun battle with security forces that left dozens dead and several buildings destroyed.

While searching one of those buildings on Tuesday airport authorities discovered seven corpses inside a cold storage unit, raising the number of deaths on Sunday's attack to 36, including the 10 Taliban attackers. It is believed they were airport workers who took shelter inside the unit when the battle started and were trapped when the building caught fire.

In the second attack the firefight was brief, with Sky News reporting that "gunmen on two motorcycles opened fire" before fleeing towards the slum when security forces returned fire. There are no reports of casualties.

A spokesman for the Taliban, Shahidullah Shahid, told Reuters news agency: "We accept responsibility for another successful attack against the government. We are successfully achieving all our targets and we will go on carrying on many more such attacks."

The Guardian reports that the latest Taliban assault came as the Pakistan military "launched air strikes in the country's troubled north-west, killing 15 people and destroying nine terrorist hideouts". This could be a prelude to a major military operation in North Waziristan, a wild region bordering Afghanistan, which Pakistani authorities believe harbours a number of terrorist groups, many of whom use the lawless region as a training area.

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