Terrorists fire at ASF camp near Karachi airport
11 June, 2014
KARACHI: Flight operations at the Karachi international airport were suspended for at least an hour and all incoming flights were diverted to other airports on Tuesday afternoon after some gunshots were heard near the Airport Security Force (ASF) Girls' Hostel close to the airport, forcing troops, the ASF, Rangers and police to rush to the airport.
A massive joint operation was launched near the ASF headquarters while troops were also called out for assistance. An army helicopter carried out aerial surveillance around the airport following reports that armed terrorists had carried out a second attack at the Karachi airport.
A senior Karachi Police official told that women living at the hostel heard some gunshots and reported the matter to their high-ups who were attending a grand gathering of their force at the ASF camp adjacent to the airport.
"The ASF authorities considered the report as authentic without verification and launched a counter-offensive and even called for back-up. Police, Rangers and even the troops moved in and launched a search operation in the Pehalwan Goth and Bhittaiabad areas for the search of the purported attackers," DIG East Munir Shaikh told.
He said after a thorough search, the police found no evidence of any fresh attack at the airport or ASF installations."We found no empty shells and international flights were directed to other airports.
On the ASF distress call, large contingents of police and Rangers rushed to the airport and launched a massive search operation in Pehalwan Goth and Bhittaiabad. Later, the area was declared clear.
Initially, ASF spokesman Col. Tahir Ali told media representatives that two armed men on a motorcycle came at the ASF Girls' Hostel and fired some shots at the hostel."The ASF sentries deployed at a nearby check post returned the fire, forcing the attackers to flee towards Pehalwan Goth," he claimed.
His claims, however, were brushed aside by the Karachi Police, which said they found no evidence of firing near the girls' hostel, as nobody had seen the attackers while they found no empty shells of bullets.
Following the reports of the attack, senior ASF Director General Azam Khan, Karachi Police chief Ghulam Qadir Thebo, Sindh Rangers Sector Commander Col. Javed and senior army officials reached the ASF headquarters and supervised the search operation for the arrest of purported attackers.
Later, in a joint media talk, DG ASF, Rangers sector commander and the Karachi Police chief denied any attack at the airport, ASF headquarters or the ASF camp and blamed the media channels for creating the hype.
DG ASF Azam Khan said a few shots were heard which were probably fired inside Pehalwan Goth and added that it was considered as an attack and the forces moved in to protect the installations and repulse the attack.
Sector Commander Rangers Colonel Javed also blamed the media for spreading rumours and said no attack was carried out at the Karachi airport or the ASF headquarters.
Our Peshawar Bureau adds: The Pakistani Taliban, headed by the Afghanistan-based militant leader Maulana Fazlullah, on Tuesday claimed responsibility for the latest attack on the Airport Security Force in Karachi and termed it a revenge for the killing of Hakimullah Mehsud.
"We proudly claim responsibility for the second attack on ASF today in Karachi. It's revenge for the killing of Hakimullah Mehsud and our attacks will continue throughout the country," said Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid.
He said their fighters after firing at the ASF and Pakistani security forces safely reached their hideouts in Karachi.The Taliban spokesman claimed that several other attacks had been planned and would be executed soon.
US condemns Karachi airport attack, offers help in probe
The United States has offered assistance to Pakistan to investigate the attack on Karachi's Jinnah International Airport.
A US State Department deputy spokesperson Marie Harf told in a briefing in Washington that counter-terrorism is a shared concern for the two countries. She said Washington works closely with Pakistan to help build its capacity to deal with terrorists' threats.
The spokesperson particularly cited the cooperative efforts by Pakistan and the United States in combating terrorism along the Afghan border.
Condemning the terrorist attack on Karachi's Jinnah International Airport, the United States offered Pakistan its help in investigating the incident on the country's largest airport.
"(We) join the Pakistani people in condemning this attack. We have offered assistance to the relevant Pakistani authorities in investigating this crime," Marie said.
Explaining the American probe offer, she said that Pakistan has a number of capabilities to handle these incidents and the US is ready to help Pakistan with the investigation. She said counter-terrorism is a shared concern for the United States and Pakistan.
"The Pakistani people themselves have been tragically the victims of many of these terrorist attacks. So the cooperation is ongoing," Marie noted.
EU condemns Karachi attack
The spokesperson of the European External Action Service (EEAS) has said the European Union strongly condemns the terrorist attack at Karachi airport.
"The European Union strongly condemns the terrorist attack at Jinnah International Airport on Sunday night. The aim of that attack was clearly to destroy civilian aircraft and parts of the airport itself, putting innocent civilians and passengers' lives at risk."
Our thoughts are with the families of the security personnel and the civilian airport staff killed during the attack. "We support the efforts by the government of Pakistan to restore law and order in Karachi and, more generally, to fight terrorism with all necessary determination." The spokesperson said.