Karachi Airport attack kills 28, including ten Taliban gunmen

Taliban entered via cargo terminal and launched gun and bomb attack that lasted six hours

Smoke rising from Karachi airport
(Image credit: RIZWAN TABASSUM/AFP/Getty Images)

At least 28 people have been killed in a Taliban attack at Karachi's international airport which began last night and continued sporadically this morning.

The airport, the biggest in Pakistan, was targeted by the Taliban at 11pm local time (7pm BST), when ten gunmen in two teams of five launched their deadly assault.

According to the BBC there are conflicting reports of how the terrorists entered the old terminal, which is now used only for cargo and VIP operations. Initial reports indicated they had used fake ID to gain access but it is also suggested the attackers cut through a barbed wire fence.

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Once inside the area the gunmen began what the Chief Minister of Sindh province, Qaim Ali Shah, described as a "well trained" assault using automatic weapons, a rocket launcher and grenades.

In the ensuing battle, said to have lasted nearly six hours, at least 28 people were killed, including the ten gunmen and several terminal staff believed to be "mostly security guards from the Airport Security Force (ASF) but also airline workers". A further 14 people were wounded.

Shah said he believed the gunmen – some of who may have been foreign nationals – had wanted to destroy some aircraft but they failed in this objective, although they did set fire to some cargo. Three of the ten gunmen who died reportedly blew themselves up.

The Pakistan Taliban later issued a statement claiming responsibility for the attack and saying it was to avenge their late leader Hakimullah Mehsud, killed in a US drone strike last November.

The statement said: "It is a message to the Pakistan government that we are still alive to react over the killings of innocent people in bomb attacks on their villages."

Pakistan's military spokesman Major General Asim Bajwa declared on Twitter that the attack was ended, promising that the "airport will be cleared by midday for operations". In a second Tweet he "congratulated participating troops for a well coordinated, successful operation eliminating all terrorists".

The BBC reports that gunfire was heard at the airport again this morning, but Pakistan's Civil Aviation Authority has since confirmed that flights will resume later today.

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