Pak Taliban attacks Karachi airport again; says it is on warpath
11 June 2014
Pakistan's Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility for another attack on a security academy at Karachi's airport today, less than 48 hours after an all-night siege by Taliban gunmen at Pakistan's busiest airport that killed more than 30 people.
"We accept responsibility for another successful attack against the government," Pakistani Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said. "We are successfully achieving all our targets and we will go on carrying on many more such attacks."
On Sunday night, 10 militants disguised as security force members and armed with rocket-propelled grenades had stormed the airport in one of the most brazen attacks in a long-running Pakistani Taliban insurgency. (See: Pak Taliban comes close to hijacking Karachi airport; over 28 dead)
The late Sunday assault, in which 34 people are finally reported killed, destroyed prospects for peace talks between the Taliban and the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and triggered speculation that the army might opt for an all-out offensive against militant strongholds.
In yesterday's incident, a group of gunmen on motorbikes opened fire on an academy run by the Airports Security Force (ASF) and fled after security forces retaliated.
A Reuters correspondent near the airport of Pakistan's commercial capital heard gunfire and saw at least four ambulances heading to the scene.
There was no immediate word on casualties from the latest attack; and so far even the number of attackers seems uncertain.
"The shooting came from a nearby shanty settlement towards the ASF," said a senior police officer. "Police are launching a search operation now."
Karachi airport briefly suspended all flights in and out of the sprawling city of 18 million, an official said, but most flights were restored by 0930 GMT. Sri Lankan Airlines cancelled a Karachi-bound flight with 207 passengers onboard after the latest attack.
Earlier today, Pakistani fighter jets bombed Taliban positions on the Afghan border.
"Nine terrorist hideouts were destroyed by early morning military air strikes near the Pakistan-Afghan border," the army's press wing said, adding that 25 militants were killed.
It was unclear if the latest air strikes signalled the start of a broader offensive in the North Waziristan region where the al Qaeda-linked Taliban are based, or indeed if they had been carried out in retaliation for the airport attack.
The air force has periodically conducted raids to bomb Pakistani Taliban positions in the lawless, ethnic Pashtun region but has yet to launch a major offensive.
The semi-autonomous Pashtun lands along the border, known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, have never been brought under the full control of any government.
The Pakistani Taliban, an alliance of insurgent groups fighting to topple the government and set up an Islamist state, said they had carried out the late Sunday attack in Karachi in response to the air strikes on their strongholds.