The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for a second attack in Karachi, after armed men targeted a security training facility in the compound of the city’s airport, briefly halting flights.
Tuesday’s gunfire came within 48 hours of an assault on Karachi’s international airport that killed at least 36 people and wounded dozens more.
“It was not such a big attack. Two people came towards the ASF checkpost and started firing,” Colonel Tahir Ali, an army spokesman, said on Tuesday.
“They ran away after the firing and because we are on high alert. Under the standard operating procedure we called in [paramilitary] rangers and the army.”
Fighters from the Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP), or Pakistani Taliban, disguised as police guards stormed a terminal of Karachi airport in the early hours of Monday, setting off explosions.
The TTP later claimed responsibility for the assault and gave warning of more attacks.
Discussing Tuesday’s incident, Al Jazeera’s Kamal Hyder said a few men attacked the Airport Security Force Academy, which is within the airport compound, forcing all activities there to be briefly suspended.
He said Pakistani authorities played down reports of a major attack and announced that all flights were back to normal at the airport after a brief break.
“The incident has been taken way out of proportion,” he said quoting the Pakistani authorities.
“After the split [within the Pakistani Taliban], it is trying to show that it has not weakened through these attacks. And they should be taken seriously by the government.”
He said the second incident occurred just hours after the government had declared the Karachi airport safe.
Also on Tuesday, rescue workers at the airport retrieved the bodies of seven people who had been trapped in a cold storage facility.
The victims had sought refuge in the facility during Monday’s attack, but the room caught fire and the seven were burned alive.
A TTP spokesman said Monday’s Karachi airport 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.
Against this backdrop, the Pakistani military said in a statement on Tuesday that it carried out air raids in the Tirah Valley area of the northwestern Khyber tribal district, killing about 25 people.
The statement said “nine terrorist hideouts were destroyed” in the raids.