Nearly 30 Dead in Pakistan After Assault on Major Airport
Taliban says attack on Karachi airport retaliation for drone strikes by U.S. and continued bombardment by Pakistan Army
An overnight gun battle at the main airport in Karachi left nearly thirty people dead as the Taliban claimed responsibility and said the brazen assault was retribution for the killing earlier this year of a key leader by a U.S. drone.
Pakistan Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid claimed his group's responsibility for the attack, saying it was revenge for the Pakistan Army's continued war against those living in the tribal areas, acknowledgement of failed peace talks, and the Pakistan government's backing of the U.S. military's drone attacks in the tribal regions along the border.
"Pakistan used peace talks as a tool of war, it killed hundreds of innocent tribal women and children. This is our first attack to avenge the death of Hakimullah Mehsud," Shahid told Agence-France Presse. "We have yet to take revenge for the deaths of hundreds of innocent tribal women and children in Pakistani air strikes. It's just the beginning, we have taken revenge for one, we have to take revenge for hundreds."
According to Reuters:
The assault on Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, Pakistan's sprawling commercial hub of 18 million people, all but destroys prospects for peace talks between the Pakistani Taliban and the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
It also deals a heavy blow to Sharif's efforts to attract foreign investors to revive economic growth and raises questions about security at the country's main installations.
The attack began just before midnight when 10 gunmen wearing military uniforms and armed with automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades shot their way into the airport's old terminal, which is used mainly for charter and executive flights.
The Guardian reports that the airport attack will likely derail any lingering hope for a peace agreement between the Pakistan Taliban, tribal militias, and the Pakistan government which also has direct impact on the U.S. war in neighboring Afghanistan:
And Asia Times adds:
The airport was chosen for the attack "because it serves as the biggest air logistics centre supplying goods for the Crusaders' war in Afghanistan and Pakistan," Umar Media, the official media wing of the Pakistani Taliban, said on its Facebook page.
Pakistani officials said a military operation against the militants, who attacked the country’s busiest airport late on Sunday, ended shortly before dawn on June 9. However, security forces later announced that the military operation had been relaunched after gunfire at the airport resumed.