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Heavy fighting at Karachi airport leaves at least 23 dead

Terrorists fight security in six-hour gun battle

Heavy fighting at Karachi airport leaves at least 23 dead

Security personnel gather outside the airport during the lengthy, intense gun battle with terrorists. (AFP Photo/Asif Hassan) reporter and AFP, Karachi

June 9, 2014

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At least 23 people were killed when heavily armed militants stormed Jinnah International Airport in Pakistan’s city of Karachi late on Sunday night. The final death toll may yet rise.

According to military officials, 10 terrorists equipped with automatic weapons and hand grenades, some of them in military uniforms, forced their way into the terminal, leading to intense fighting which continued for six hours.

Army spokesman Major General Asim Bajwa said that all 10 terrorists were killed by 4:35 local time (00:35 GMT). “Airport has been cleared. No damage has been done to any aircraft. Fire visible in media footage was of a building, which has been extinguished. All vital assets are intact,” he said, ending media speculation that at least two planes caught fire.

“We confined terrorists to two areas and eliminated them. Weapons, live ammunition, including RPS, rockets have been recovered,” he added.

The remainder of the dead included security personnel and two civilians.

A spokesman for the airport said it will be cleared by noon today after a precautionary sweep during daylight. Flight operations were suspended during the siegewith all incoming flights diverted.

No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but suspicions are likely to fall on the Pakistani Taliban.

Speaking to media after the operation, Sindh Chief Minister Qaim Ali Shah said that it was a well planned attack.

“The attackers were well trained and their plan was to destroy planes and state assets. However, they were successfully countered by security personnel,” the chief minister said.

Meanwhile in a second incident, at least 30 members of the minority Shia Hazara community were killed in a suicide blast in Taftan bordering Iran.

"Four attackers including two gunmen and a suicide bomber attacked a hotel housing 300 Shia pilgrims in Taftan. The pilgrims were returning to Iran,” Balochistan Home Secretary Akbar Durrani said.

“We can confirm that 30 people, women and children among them, have been killed in the blasts." 

However, there are conflicting reports about the death toll, with some claiming that it numbered more than 50.

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