Two Attacks Target Karachi Airport, Taliban threatens “All-out War”June 10, 2014 in Pakistan
10 June- The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for two attacks on Jinnah International Airport within the past two days. This morning, two Taliban gunmen on motorcycle opened fire on Karachi’s airport security academy, fleeing after Pakistani forces retaliated. The attack occurred nearly 48 hours gunmen laid siege to Jinnah International Airport. The second attack ended with no casualties.
The gunmen targeted the Airport Security Force (ASF) training area north of the main airport, and are believed to gained access to the area through a nearby slum housing village. Reports indicated that the two gunmen came toward the check-post and started firing. Security forces, still on high alert from the previous attack, called in the paramilitary rangers and the army. The gunmen have not yet been found.
A day earlier, ten heavily armed Taliban fighters, some reportedly of Uzbek nationality, laid siege to Jinnah International Airport. The group was reportedly avenging the death of Hakeemullah Meshud, a former Taliban leader who was killed in a US drone strike in November 2013. Taliban fighters exchanged fire with Pakistani police and airport security for nearly six hours. All ten of the gunmen were killed, in addition to at least 11 other airport security guards and airport workers. It is believed that the fighters intended to destroy airplanes at the terminal.
Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said, “We carried out this attack on the Karachi airport and 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 […] It is just the beginning, we have taken revenge for one [Hakeemullah], we have to take revenge for hundreds.” Shahid threatened that the group will engage in “all-out war” starting 10 June.
The missive suggests that peace talks between the Taliban and the Pakistani government have been taken off the table; Shahid called the government’s negotiation strategy a “tool of war.” Analysts speculate that the army may conduct a large-scale offensive against militant strongholds. On Tuesday morning, Pakistani fighter jets bombed Taliban positions on the Afghan border, reportedly destroying nine militant hideouts and killing 15. The government has also increased security at nuclear sites.
The attack occurred nearly two weeks after a faction of the Sanja Mehsud branch of Taliban split from the larger movement. Sajna Meshud favours peace talks with the government, and has allied with the so-called “good Taliban” groups who are supported by the Pakistani government. These groups do not want to conduct attacks on Pakistan; however some among them do support al Qaeda and other foreign terror groups.