Karachi Airport under second attack
Pakistan's security forces evacuate airport employees during the first wave of militant attacks on Monday (File/AFP)
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Security forces at Karachi Airport have come under fresh attack, a day after militants launched an audacious assault on the facility that left at least 36 people dead. The latest attack came as Pakistan’s interior minister was briefing parliament about Monday's assault.
Reports said unidentified gunmen launched a strike on the base of Pakistan’s Airport Security Force (ASF) located at Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport at lunchtime on Tuesday.
It is unclear what damage the gunmen were able to do but Pakistani media reported that security forces had repelled the assault. Some militants were reported to have been killed.
All flights to and from the airport were again suspended. Among those passengers waiting to flight out was former interior minister Rehman Malik.
The attack came a day after ten gunmen stormed into the airport during a five-hour assault and laid siege using grenades and automatic weapons. Reports said the militants were well-equipped and well-trained and apparently planning for a long operation.
A spokesperson for the Taliban later said the attack, launched at around midnight on Sunday, had been carried out in revenge for a U.S. drone attack last year that killed the Taliban’s then leader, Hakimullah Mehsud. The spokesman said the Taliban fighters had been seeking to hijack a plane.
On Tuesday morning it was reported that seven burned bodies have been recovered from a burned building at the airport, bringing the death toll from Monday’s attack to 36. Among the dead were all ten militants. Reports said the seven bodies, burned beyond recognition, had been found in a cold storage unit. It is unclear how they ended up there.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday morning it was also reported that Pakistan’s air force launched air strikes in tribal areas on the Afghan border, killing at least 15 suspected militants. “Nine terrorist hideouts were destroyed by early morning military air strikes near the Pakistan-Afghan border,” the army said in a statement.
The latest attack targeting Karachi Airport came as Pakistan’s interior minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, was briefing the parliament on Monday’s assault. “Terrorists wanted to kidnap people and damage planes,” he said.
By Andrew Buncombe