Act of vengeance: Taliban claim airport assault

Published: June 10, 2014
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People look on as smoke rises after militants launched an early morning assault at Jinnah International Airport in Karachi on June 9, 2014. PHOTO: AFP

People look on as smoke rises after militants launched an early morning assault at Jinnah International Airport in Karachi on June 9, 2014. PHOTO: AFP

ISLAMABAD: 

The Pakistani Taliban on Monday claimed responsibility for Sunday night’s deadly assault at the Karachi airport, saying that it was in revenge for the killing of the group’s chief Hakimullah Mehsud, who died in a US drone strike in November last year.

“The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claims responsibility for the attack that was in revenge for Hakimullah Mehsud, who was martyred in a US drone attack [carried out] with the help of the Pakistani government,” TTP spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said in a statement.

The Taliban believe that Pakistani agencies provided intelligence on targets for the American CIA’s drone campaign – which has since been put on hold by the President Obama’s administration.

Giving details of the attack, Shahid said the suicide bombers entered the Karachi airport around 10pm and fought with ‘thousands of security personnel’ and hit their targets until Monday morning.

He claimed that scores of security personnel were killed and a dozen aircraft destroyed in the attack. “The airport was selected so that maximum damage could be caused to the government and less to the public,” he added.

About the stillborn dialogue with the government, Shahid said the TTP had already made it clear that they would frustrate any government attempt to use the dialogue as a political tool or tactics for war. “In its response to our sincere efforts, the government killed Hakimullah Mehsud and Waliur Rehman Mehsud, launched undeclared military operations, carried out bombings in the tribal areas and killed missing persons,” he alleged.

Shahid claimed that the government has decided to launch a dangerous war in North Waziristan Agency at the behest of the United States and its Western allies. “The TTP would side with Hafiz Gul Bahadur to defend their brave tribal brethren.”

Last month, Gul Bahadur, the chief of Shura Mujahideen North Waziristan, accused the government of reneging on a peace agreement the two sides had reached in 2007 and asked local tribesmen to shift to safer locations in anticipation of war between the militants and security forces. He was particularly angered by the air strikes that, according to him, targeted innocent civilians.

Published in The Express Tribune, June 10th, 2014.

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