The Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on Karachi's international airport that left at least 24 people dead on Sunday night.
Pakistani authorities said on Monday that security forces had neutralized militants who besieged Jinnah International Airport overnight.
Gunmen wearing military uniforms shot their way into the airport just before midnight and fought Pakistani forces for around 12 hours. Shortly after dawn, the army declared the airport had been secured, but then fresh gunfire erupted once again.
Around noon on Monday, after soldiers were brought in to reinforce the operation, Pakistani officials said the airport had been finally cleared of militants.
The death toll from the attack varied, with some news reports claiming 24 people had been killed, while others put the tally at over 27 dead.
Pakistan’s paramilitary force had announced earlier that the attack was carried out by a group of foreign fighters that included ethnic Uzbeks.
“Three militants blew themselves up and seven were killed by security forces,” Rizwan Akhtar, the regional head of the paramilitary Rangers, said in televised remarks. “The militants appear to be Uzbek.”
A few hours later the Taliban claimed responsibility for the assault on the airport.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s government has recently made efforts to engage Taliban militants in talks to end years of fighting, but hopes for negotiations have been waning.
Observers said that the airport attack would all but destroy prospects for peace talks, and that the Taliban attack would also undermine Sharif’s efforts to attract foreign investment and revive economic growth.
(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)
Date created : 2014-06-09