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Central & South Asia

Pakistan reopens airport after deadly raid

Operations resume at Karachi airport after night-long assault by Pakistan Taliban fighters that left 29 people dead.

Last updated: 09 Jun 2014 18:08
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Pakistan has reopened the international airport in Karachi - the country's busiest - a day after Pakistan Taliban fighters disguised as police guards stormed the facility, setting off explosions in an attack that left 29 people dead. 

Operations at the Jinnah international airport resumed on Monday afternoon, hours after the end of overnight fighting that also left at least two dozen people wounded.

A spokesman for Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan said the attack was in retaliation for the treatment of Taliban prisoners, air raids in North Waziristan and for the drone strike death last year of Hakimullah Mehsud, a top Taliban commander.

In a Twitter statement, the group said: "We have yet to take revenge for the deaths of hundreds of innocent tribal women and children in Pakistani air raids. It's just the beginning, we have taken revenge for one, we have to take revenge for hundreds."

Al Jazeera's Kamal Hyder, reporting from Islamabad, said the statement came from group's Shahidullah Shahed.

The raid involved heavily armed attackers disguised as security personnel, who hurled hand grenades and fired automatic weapons as they targeted the airport's cargo terminal.

The army initially said it had regained control of the airport at dawn after a six-hour siege, but relaunched their operation after explosions and shooting were heard in the morning.

The dead included at least 10 of the attackers, officials said.

Al Jazeera's Hyder said the attackers were wearing uniforms of the airport security force and and used fake IDs to enter the terminal.

People stranded

Most passengers were moved to a secure location overnight and all local and international flights were suspended, officials said.

However, witnesses told Al Jazeera that more than 60 people were stranded in the main terminal for several hours as they waited for security clearances.

Television pictures showed a large fire raging at the airport as ambulances ferried casualties away.

Our correspondent said: "This is not the first time. There have been two major attacks in the past, one in Karachi and another in Kamra airbase [in Attock district in Punjab]. There was another attack on Peshawar airport which was foiled.

Security was increased at airports and military installations across Pakistan following the Karachi assault.

In a separate incident on Sunday night, at least 23 people including Shia pilgrims were killed in a gun and suicide attack inside a restaurant in Taftan, a town near the Pakistan-Iran border.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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