A blast at Pakistan’s busiest airport and battles in Belujistan.
Taliban militants disguised as security forces stormed Jinnah International Airport, Pakistan’s sprawling commercial hub of 18 million people in Karachi on Sunday. At least 27 people were killed in a night-long battle at one of the country’s most high-profile targets.
The Pakistani Taliban, an alliance of insurgent groups fighting to topple the government and set up a sharia state, claimed responsibility, saying it was in response to army attacks on their strongholds along the Afghan border. The militants were going to seize hangars and destroy planes.
‘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,’ Shahidullah Shahid, a Taliban spokesman, told Reuters.
By dawn on Monday, the army said the airport had been secured but heavy smoke rose above the building. According to the latest information, 27 persons are killed, including 10 militants. Officials said no aircraft had been damaged.
On this very day Sunna militants attacked Shia pilgrims near the city of Taftan (Belujistan, not far from the border with Iran). 22 persons are killed, dozens are injured.
The assault on Jinnah International Airport 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.
75% of Pakistani Moslems are Sunni; some 20% are Shia.
www.belsat.eu/en, via Reuters