KARACHI - Terrorists on Tuesday made another attempt to target the Airport Security Force and opened fire on the ASF hostel located within the premises of the Karachi airport adjacent to the slum locality of Pehalwan Goth, triggering suspension of flight operation for some time and creating a great deal of panic.
The incident was taken seriously because of the previous attack which claimed 30 lives on Sunday night. The security agencies, including army, rangers, police and ASF, rushed to the site. As a prompt reaction, helicopters were used for air surveillance while the security agencies cordoned off the areas adjacent to the airport.
Residents of the area said four to five attackers, clad in Shalwar Kamiz, resorted to firing near the mosque located in the ASF camp and managed to escape towards Pehalwan Goth. The inhabitants explained that a narrow riverbed and bushes alongside the ASF camp helped terrorists escape without any exchange of fire with the security agencies.
On the other hand, intermittent firing by the security personnel continued in the area. The rangers, police and ASF personnel took positions and resorted to firing at every suspicious movement to avert any untoward incident. The routes leading to the airport were closed for traffic while flight operation was also suspended for a while.
Karachi Corps Commander Lt-Gen Sajjad Ghani, Sindh DG Ranger Maj-Gen Rizwan Akhter and IGP Iqbal Mehmood and Police Chief Ghulam Qadir Thebo rushed to the spot.
ISPR Director General Maj-Gen Asim Bajwa said three to four terrorists resorted to firing, but could not get inside the ASF Academy.
He said the terrorists managed to escape while security agencies started the search operation in adjacent localities. Bajwa said the situation was under control while the security agencies remained in search of the terrorists.
Two gunmen on a motorbike opened fire on the ASF hostel building and managed to escape, said Airport Security Force Deputy Director Colonel Tahir Ali. He said the terrorists escaped without harming any security official or damaging the hostel building. He said it was not an attack on the airport. The hostel of ASF was located far away from the airport, he added.
Later, ASF DG Azam Khan, Karachi Police Chief Ghulam Qadir Tehbo and Rangers Sector Commander Colonel Javaid, at a joint briefing to media persons, made it clear that the incident was not an attack.
Media persons should avoid using the word attack, said DG Azam Khan, adding the security agencies quickly retaliated and killed each of the terrorists on Sunday. He said such an exaggeration could create problems for Pakistan throughout the world. He said the airport was completely secure and the law-enforcement agencies were capable of responding to any terrorist act.
Rangers Sector Commander Colonel Javaid said the terrorist attack on old terminal on Sunday was repulsed and all the attackers were killed due to a prompt action of the law enforcers.
The rangers’ sector commander said such sorts of slum localities were also located in Lahore and other areas where drug paddlers and other criminals operated usually. He said no crime was reported from the areas located in the surrounding of the airport during the last one year though prior to it the areas were considered strongholds of criminals.
City Police Chief Ghulam Qadir Thebo said the situation in the area was completely under control and security agencies had been looking for the terrorists. He said no attack had happened and no security official wounded. “The terrorists tried to create panic and they achieved their objective. Following the incident, security agencies have started the search operation in Pehalwan Goth area and adjacent localities,” he averred.
Sources privy to the matter revealed that secret security agencies had also conducted raids in the Gulistan-e-Johar area and arrested two suspects from an apartment located close to the Kamran Chowrangi. The suspected militants were shifted to an undisclosed location, they said.
Meanwhile, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility for the second attack near the Karachi airport. A Twitter account allegedly operated by Omar Khorasani of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Mohmand Faction, tweeted on Tuesday claiming the group had carried out the second attack.