Terrorists Lose Gunfight at Karachi Airport

Up to 23 dead after gunmen storm terminal for VIPs and cargo

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 8, 2014 2:52 PM CDT

(Newser) – Terrorists stormed an international airport in Pakistan today and engaged in a long gun battle with security forces, rattling a country's frail sense of peace, Dawn reports. The army, airport security, and other security personnel fought the ten assailants for hours, confining them to two areas of the airport and defeating them, Geo TV reports. The death toll varies by news report, from 13 to 23 (including the terrorists), with 15 to 22 injured. The horror began when the assailants opened fire and hurled grenades on a tarmac at Jinnah International Airport in Karachi. "I was working at my office when I heard big blasts—several blasts—and then there were heavy gunshots," an official at Pakistan International Airlines told the AP.

Huge explosions went off during the firefight and plumes of smoke were seen rising from the airport. The gunmen moved toward the runways during the fight, at least at first, and early reports suggested that planes were on fire—but a Pakistani military spokesman later said no planes had been burned and he denied that the terrorists wanted to hijack a plane, the New York Times reports. Word is, the terrorists may have gained access by sneaking in with forged airport-security ID cards. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but suspicion quickly fell on the Pakistani Taliban, whose peace talks with the government have sputtered since February. The Taliban has also been battling other militants for control of Karachi, Pakistan's biggest city and most important commercial center.

Pakistan army troops arrive at Karachi airport following an attack by unknown gunmen disguised as police guards who stormed a terminal used for VIPs and cargo, Sunday, June 8, 2014, in Pakistan.   (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)
Pakistani commandos get ready to enter Karachi airport terminal following attacks by unknown gunmen on Sunday night, June 8, 2014, in Pakistan.   (AP Photo/Shakil Adil)
Pakistani security troops rush to Karachi airport terminal following attacks by unknown gunmen on Sunday night, June 8, 2014, in Pakistan.   (AP Photo/Shakil Adil)
A Pakistani soldier takes position at Jinnah International Airport where security forces fought with gunmen on Sunday, June 8, 2014, in Pakistan.   (AP Photo/Shakil Adil)
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