KARACHI: Almost a day after an armed attack on Karachi airport killed at least 29 people including militants, Federal Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Monday night said that foreign as well as local elements were involved in recent terrorist attacks in Pakistan, DawnNews reported.
Speaking at a press conference held at the airport here, he said at least 19 security personnel including 11 Airport Security Force (ASF) personnel were killed in the brazen attack. There are reports of 29 others wounded in the attack also, he added.
Chaudhry Nisar praised security and law enforcement forces for the successful and timely completion of the operation against the assailants.
“Rangers troops reached the airport in seven and armed forces in 10 minutes time,” he said.
According to the security officials, the operation was completed by 1:30am to 2:30am as all ten militants were killed by then, said Nisar. They, however, continued the operation for an hour or so to make sure no militants were left hiding in the airport’s premises.
The minister said that all national installations remained safe in the attack. However, he added that three aircraft were partially damaged.
“The main target of the assailants was to destroy aircraft.”
Paying rich tributes to the security forces, he said that they launched joint action and stopped the terrorists from moving towards new airport terminal where they intended to destroy stationed aircraft. Two aircraft were loaded with passengers and were ready to fly, he said.
“The passengers were safely taken back to lounges and one passenger plane which had just taken off was also called back as a safety measure. Two or three aircraft received minor damages which are easily reparable.”
All ten terrorist were killed – three of them blew themselves up when they were rounded up by security forces. The entire area was cleared before 1.30am. However, the security forces continued combing the old and new terminals areas till 4am, he said.
Chaudhry Nisar said that the terrorists intended to stage a long scene as they were equipped even with rocket launchers and other modern gadgets besides carrying with them a good stock of food and medicine.
He said a detailed post-mortem and biometrics would be carried out of all ten terrorists to prove their identity. We would also seek help from Nadra in this regard, he added.
“Instead of any political scoring, this is time to unite as our enemy is unseen and hidden. It has targeted the entire country,” he remarked.
Nisar said every street and corner of the country was at terrorists’ target and urged the security personnel to remain on their toes.
Regarding weapons recovered from the attackers, he said there were clues pointing towards the involvement of a country, but this was yet to be verified.
The interior minister said that people who went missing during the operation are being located by the security forces and rescuers.
Earlier, the interior minister chaired a meeting at Karachi airport where he was given briefing by the DG Rangers and the officials of law enforcing agencies on the attack.
Governor Sindh Dr Ishratul Ebad Khan, officials of intelligence agencies, Civil Aviation Authority, PIA and ASF attended the meeting.
Families of seven missing people protest
Meanwhile, families of seven airport workers blocked Shahrae Faisal demanding that authorities work towards freeing their relatives who were trapped in cold-storage facilities to escape the carnage, AFP reported.
“We are looking into this and according to the families some seven people were trapped inside the cold storage and were in contact with the families on cell phone,” said Abid Qaimkhani, a spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA).
US condemns deadly attack
Condemning the deadly Taliban attack at Karachi airport, White House spokesman Josh Earnest said Americans’ hearts go out to the families of the victims and those who were wounded.
Earnest said whether to reconcile with the Taliban is a strategic decision that Pakistan's government will have to make.
Ban Ki-moon denounces terror attacks
UN chief Ban Ki-moon also condemned the Taliban attack on Pakistan's largest international airport and called on the government to address terrorism and religious extremism.
Ban also condemned suicide attacks targeting Shia Muslims in Balochistan, which killed at least 24 pilgrims.
The UN secretary general strongly condemned the two attacks and is “deeply concerned by this upsurge of violence across Pakistan,” his spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.
“While acknowledging the measures already taken to maintain security, he urges the government of Pakistan to further increase its efforts to address terrorism and religious extremism, including with a view to protecting the rights of all people to safely practice their religion, and to bring the perpetrators of such attacks to justice,” the spokesman added.