KARACHI, Jun 9 – Heavily armed militants launched an assault on Pakistan’s busiest airport in the southern city of Karachi, leaving at least 21 dead including 10 militants in a six-hour siege that the army quelled at dawn.
Explosions and gunfire rang out as the attackers, some dressed in military uniforms, battled security forces in one of the most brazen attacks in years on Pakistan’s biggest city.
Authorities said all 10 militants had been killed and that at least 11 dead bodies including security personnel and two civilians were received by the city’s main Jinnah Hospital.
“Update: Area cleared. No damage to aircraft, fire visible in pics was not plane but a building, now extinguished. All vital assets intact,” military spokesman Major General Asim Bajwa said in a tweet.
The assault forced the closure of the Jinnah International Airport but Bajwa said it would be ready to resume services later in the day.
The attack will raise fresh concerns about Pakistan’s shaky security situation, and questions about how militants were able to penetrate the airport which serves one of the world’s biggest cities.
No one has yet claimed responsibility for the assault, but it came as talks between Pakistan and the Taliban which began earlier this year hit an impasse.
Officials said the gunmen entered from at least two sides of the airport at around 11:00pm on Sunday — the terminal used for the hajj pilgrimage and an engineering section close to an old terminal that is no longer in use.
Armed with guns, grenades and rocket launchers, they clashed with the airport’s security force, police, paramilitaries and later commandos.
Smoke was seen billowing from the airport as fires raged close to planes parked on the runway.