The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack on a security checkpost outside the Karachi airport on Tuesday, raising further questions about authorities’ ability to secure key facilities in the face of a seemingly resurgent enemy.
Shahidullah Shahid, the spokesman of the TTP, told journalists in a statement that the militants had attacked the checkpost and would continue to attack state assets. A day earlier, after the attack on the Karachi Airport that left at least 35 people dead, he had threatened further attacks in retaliation for airstrikes on suspected militant hideouts in North Waziristan.
Security forces personnel, however, downplayed the incident, saying it had been a minor battle. “It was not such a big attack, two people came toward the Airport Security Forces (ASF) checkpost and started firing,” said Col. Taher Ali, the spokesman of the ASF. “They ran away after the firing and because we are on high alert, under the standard operating procedure we called in Rangers and the Army.” He said that there had been no casualties in the attack and a search operation was currently underway.
The attackers opened fire on the checkpost and the nearby ASF academy, which is also located close to student hostels. After thwarting the attackers, authorities launched a search operation in the nearby Pehlwan Goth area to locate the gunmen before they could flee.
Maj. Gen. Asim Bajwa, spokesman for the ISPR, said in a message posted on Twitter that the attackers had been unable to breach the fence surrounding the academy, and were currently being pursued by security forces.
In the immediate aftermath of the attack, flights were suspended for about an hour, having resumed following the previous attack. “We have suspended all flight operations at Karachi airport and we are evacuating passengers,” said Mashud Tajwar, a spokesman for Pakistan International Airlines. Civil Aviation Authority spokesman Abid Qaimkhani added that incoming flights had been diverted. At 1:45 p.m., after security forces launched their search operation, the CAA said flight operations had resumed.
The checkpost is located at the entrance of an ASF camp some 500 meters away from the main airport premises, or one kilometer from the passenger terminal.