At least 23 persons, including 10 terrorists, were killed when heavily armed militants attacked the Jinnah International Airport in Pakistan’s commercial hub Karachi even as fresh firing was heard early Monday, hours after security forces declared an end to the assault.
“All 10 terrorists have been killed, the airport secured and they were unable to damage any aircraft or installations,” a spokesman of the military’s Inter Services Pubic Relations (ISPR) said.
The terrorists were cornered and killed after they attacked the old airport terminal building late last night, posing as Airport Security Force (ASF) personnel.
However, Express News reported that three militants are still present inside the airport as fresh firing was heard near Isphani Hangar, which is the aircraft overhaul facility of the airport.
Meanwhile, Geo TV reported that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The ISPR spokesman said that army units from the nearby Malir cantonment base, ASF commandos, paramilitary rangers and police had carried out the joint operation to clear the old airport area.
Sophisticated machine guns and rocket launchers were recovered from the slain terrorists who were being identified, he said.
For nearly six hours the Jinnah international airport which is close to the old airport terminal was shut down and all flights diverted as exchange of gunfire took place and heavy plumes of smoke and fire could be seen rising from inside the runway area where the terrorists took cover in the hanger and engineering workshops.
Several loud explosions were also heard but the spokesman confirmed that no aircraft was damaged nor any important assets or installations damaged during the operation.
Sagheer Ahmed, the Sindh minister for health, told reporters that 13 people were killed in the attack.
“Those martyred include the ASF personnel, civilian engineers and personnel of CAA and PIA and a police officer while a dozen have also been injured and are admitted to hospital,” he said.
Defence Minister Khawaja Asif described the attack as cowardly and said it was another example of how terrorists were trying to destroy important installations and locations of the government.
“But I can tell you these terrorists will not succeed in their aims and will be defeated,” Mr. Asif said.
The attack was reminiscent of the >deadly raid carried out by some 15 militants of the Tehreek—e—Taliban in May, 2011 on the Mehran naval airbase here in which the attackers killed some 18 personnel and damaged aircraft before being killed in a counter—attack.