Taliban wanted to hijack airplane in Pak

Taliban wanted to hijack airplane in Pak

29 killed in 13-hr gunfight at Karachi airport

Taliban wanted to hijack airplane in Pak

Their backpacks stuffed with dry fruit, water and ammunition – suggesting they were in for a long siege—a squad of highly trained Taliban fighters attacked Pakistan’s biggest airport.

At least 29 people, including 10 militants, were killed after 13 hours of intense gun battle at Karachi's Jinnah International Airport. Seven militants were shot dead by Pakistani forces, while three died after detonating their suicide-bomb belts.

The outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility for the attack in response to airstrikes in their strongholds near the Afghan border and to avenge the killing of former TTP chief Hakimullah Mehsud in a US drone strike. Their mission was to hijack a passenger plane.

“The goal was to damage the government, including hijacking planes and destroying state installations,” said Shahidullah Shahid, a Taliban spokesman. “This was just an example of what we are capable of and there is more to come. The government should be ready for even worse attacks,” he added.

In a similar well-coordinated attack in 2011, militants besieged a naval base in Karachi to avenge the killing of al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in a secret US special forces operation that year.

The latest assault started just before midnight on Sunday. Wearing airport security force uniforms and armed with automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, the group shot its way into the airport after arriving at the cargo terminal in two mini-vans.

A senior police officer said that the militants then split into two groups, with one attacking a gate called Fokker to create a diversion and the other storming the cargo terminal. Another senior police officer, Raja Umar Khattab, said that the attackers then broke into groups of two and pressed ahead with the assault.

Khattab said: “They operated in pairs. That's why their bodies were found lying in pairs. It seems there was faulty planning on their part. They did fire two rockets but they didn't hit their targets.”