Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Pakistan: Taliban Mount a Second Attack on Karachi Airport in Two Days, No Casualties Reported

According to Reuters, Pakistan's Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility for a second attack on a security academy at Karachi's International Airport on Tuesday (June 10), less than 48 hours after an all-night siege by Taliban gunmen at Pakistan's busiest airport that killed more than 30 people.

The June 8 assault seemingly destroyed any prospects for peace talks between the Taliban and the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and triggered speculation that the army might opt for an all-out offensive against militant strongholds if the embattled country is to function as anything but a conflict state.

On Tuesday, a group of gunmen on motorbikes opened fire on a security academy operated by the Airports Security Force (ASF) and fled after security forces retaliated. No injuries were reported.

Ten militants disguised as security force members and armed with rocket-propelled grenades broke into the airport in the first assault, one of the most brazen in a long-running Pakistani Taliban insurgency. At least 34 people were killed not to mention an undisclosed number of injured.

Reflecting an atmosphere of nervousness, Karachi airport suspended all flights in and out of the sprawling city of 18 million for the second time in two days, although most flights were promptly restored. 

Earlier on Tuesday, Pakistani fighter jets bombed Taliban positions on the Afghan border. 

COMMENT: "Nine terrorist hideouts were destroyed by early morning military air strikes near the Pakistan-Afghan border," the army's press wing said, adding that 25 militants were killed.

The Pakistani Taliban are allied with the Afghan militants of the same name and share a similar jihadist ideology.

At the same time, unlike the Afghan Taliban, the Pakistani Taliban is focused largely  in  toppling the Pakistani state and establishing strict Islamic rule in the nuclear-armed nation.

It is unclear if the latest air strikes signaled the start of a broader offensive in the North Waziristan region where the al Qaeda-linked Taliban are based, or indeed if they had been carried out in retaliation for the airport attack.

The semi-autonomous Pashtun lands along the border, known as the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, have never been brought under the full control of any government.

At Karachi's Airport, first responders earlier recovered the bodies of seven people trapped inside a cargo building, bringing to 34 the death toll from the first assault.