PESHAWAR, June 17 The Peshawar International Airport was shut down on Wednesday after an intelligence report warned of a terrorist attack on aircraft by a militant group based in the tribal region, officials said.
The Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) issued a 'notam', or a notice to airmen, to alert them of hazards en route or at a specific location on Tuesday night and cabled all national and international carriers to stop their flights to the airport from Wednesday.
An official said the airport would remain closed till Thursday night, but the notice implied that the move was for an indefinite period.
A security official said an intelligence agency had warned of a possible terrorist attack on passenger aircraft by a militant group based in Darra Adamkhel.
Tariq Afridi, leader of the banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan in Darra Adamkhel, had threatened to attack passenger aircraft if the government did not stop operations against militants in Malakand, Bajaur and other areas by June 15.
The militant had previously been associated with the banned Lashkar-i-Jhangvi.
It was not clear whether the intelligence warning was based on an intercept or a precautionary move.
Hundreds of passengers were evacuated from the departure lounges and all flights were diverted to Islamabad.
Officials said the airport had been closed for technical reasons till midnight, but passengers said they had been told by the staff at the terminal that there would be no flight for at least three days.
All entry points to the airport were closed and passengers reported having seen movement of troops.
Amir Khan, a passenger, said he waited in the departure lounge for four hours and initially announcements were made that his Dubai-bound flight had been delayed because of a technical fault in the aircraft.
“At about 4pm, passengers were asked to leave the departure lounge because flights had been cancelled due to unknown reasons,” he said.
Several roads leading to the airport had already been cordoned off by police and troops.
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