ISLAMABAD: Victims of the cold storage fire which occurred during the Karachi airport attack died minutes after the building caught fire, said Civil Airport Authority (CAA) Director-General Mohammad Yousuf, contradicting media reports that they were in contact with their families via phone.
Briefing the Senate Standing Committee on Cabinet Secretariat on Monday, the CAA DG said, “Terrorists hit the cargo building and the cold storage at first [with] bombs, due to which both buildings [caught fire].”
The people stuck inside died immediately after the building caught fire, he added, while referring to autopsy reports of the Aga Khan Hospital.
DG CAA denied media reports and claims of the families of the deceased regarding telephonic contact with them.
Following the airport attack on June 8, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan revealed that his ministry had warned Sindh authorities and asked them to increase security at the old terminal of Karachi airport, based on intelligence reports.
“The interior ministry had sent a letter but the authorities showed negligence to follow up,” said Yousuf, while briefing the Senate Standing committee on cabinet secretariat.
“It is necessary to learn about the deficiencies of security lapses after terrorist attack on sensitive points like the airport, [and] whether the terrorists had support from within the security apparatus,” remarked committee chairperson Senator Kalsoom Parveen.
“We are in a state of war and there is a need to beef up security at all small and large airports of the country, as the attack on Karachi and then Peshawar airport has sent the world a message that Pakistan is not safe,” Parveen said.
Senator Rubina Khalid from the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) said that residential areas in neighborhood of the airports were the real cause of concern.
CAA Secretary Muhammad Ali Gardezi informed the committee that security arrangements have been tightened at all airports of the country. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has also approved the recruitment of 500 security personnel, he added.
He said that we have learnt lessons from the Karachi incident, particularly that there is a shortage of armed personnel carriers with the Airport Security Force (ASF). He said that the CCTV footage showed that there were 10 terrorists and they had entered from two different entry points.
State Minister Sheikh Aftab Ahmed said that the CAA comes under the supervision of the prime minister and said he had “visited Karachi airport and submitted a detailed report of the incident to the prime minister.”
The director-general of ASF informed the committee about the security arrangements at airports and assured that “now it was not possible for anyone to break in or carry out terrorist activities at any airport.”