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Hundreds held after Pakistani plane shooting

Emirates cancels flights to Peshawar and two other carriers divert planes as search continues for attackers.

Last updated: 25 Jun 2014 16:49
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Pakistani police have arrested hundreds of people after fighters opened fire on a passenger plane during its landing approach, and Dubai's Emirates cancelled flights to Peshawar in response, officials say.

Tuesday's attack at Peshawar airport in the country's northwest killed a woman passenger and wounded two crew members.

Police conducted search operations on Wednesday throughout Peshawar and arrested "more than 200 suspects" in connection with the incident, Najeeb Ur Rehman, a senior police official, said.

"Police commandos and sniffer dogs are taking part in the operation that is still going on," he said.

The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight, landing in Peshawar from Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, came under fire late on Tuesday as it descended with more than 170 passengers on board.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Damaging consequences

The Peshawar attack comes two weeks after a raid on the international airport in the southern port city of Karachi that left dozens dead and undercut a largely fruitless peace process with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as Pakistani Taliban.

The consequences are potentially damaging for Pakistan's aviation sector.

Emirates has cancelled flights to Peshawar while two other carriers, Sharjah-based Air Arabia and Abu Dhabi's Etihad, have diverted planes to the capital Islamabad.

"Emirates has suspended flights to and from Peshawar effective 25 June 2014 until further notice, due to the security situation at the destination," an Emirates statement said on Wednesday.

Authorities said the Airbus A310 landed safely but a catastrophe was only narrowly avoided when it was hit by eight AK-47 bullets from the unidentified attackers.

Mashud Tajwar, PIA spokesman, said the aircraft was between 200 and 300 feet off the ground when it was hit.

He said the reason for the shooting was not yet clear but the airline had not received any threats.

Police prasied the pilot for remaining calm and landing safely.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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