July 24, 2014
Pakistani Taliban launch second assault near airport
Pakistan's Taliban insurgents claimed responsibility for an attack on a security academy at Karachi's airport today, less than 48 hours after an all-night siege by Taliban gunmen at Pakistan's busiest airport that killed more than 30 people.
The late Sunday assault destroyed 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.
Today, a group of gunmen on motorbikes opened fire on an academy run by the Airports Security Force (ASF) and fled after security forces retaliated. No one was hurt, officials said.
"We accept responsibility for another successful attack against the government," Pakistani Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said.
"We are successfully achieving all our targets and we will go on carrying on many more such attacks."
Ten militants disguised as security force members and armed with rocket-propelled grenades broke into the airport in the first attack, one of the most brazen in a long-running Pakistani Taliban insurgency. At least 34 people were killed.
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 restored later.
Earlier today, Pakistani fighter jets bombed Taliban positions on the Afghan border.
"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.
But they operate as a separate entity, focused entirely on toppling the Pakistani state and establishing strict Islamic rule in the nuclear-armed nation, whereas the Afghan Taliban are united by their campaign against invading foreign forces.
It was unclear if the latest air strikes signalled 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.