Taliban planned to hijack planes: Was India on the radar?

Karachi airport attack highlights concerns that Pakistan is not able to protect sensitive targets from militant groups; also that its talks with the Taliban are dead

Karachi

The Pakistani Taliban gunmen, who infiltrated the Karachi international airport, disguised as police guards, ‘intended to hijack planes.’ Their target is anybody’s guess given that the Gujarat coastline and Mumbai are within striking distance.

It remains unclear how close the militants came to achieving their aim of hijacking a plane. Reports said three international flights were due to leave the Karachi airport between 11pm on Sunday and 1am on Monday — these were bound for Sharjah, Bangkok and Dubai.

Some of the attackers ‘appeared to be Uzbeks’ but officials were still investigating, sources said.

The attack was carried out by 10 militants divided into two groups of five, resulting in a 13-hour gun battle with security forces involving army, paramilitary Rangers, police and Airport Security Force. Their backpacks were filled with food and ammunition. They were also carrying XStat devices which can heal gunshot wounds within seconds. “Clearly they came with a long siege of the airport in mind,” a source in the paramilitary Rangers told PTI.

Explosions and gunfire rang out overnight as the attackers wearing military uniforms and suicide vests, and armed with grenades and rocket launchers attacked the airport in Karachi. No passengers were, however, injured as they had attacked a terminal used for VIP flights and cargo. Sophisticated machine guns and rocket launchers were recovered from the slain terrorists.

The carnage is reminiscent of the deadly raid carried out by militants in May, 2011, on the Mehran naval airbase in which the attackers killed some 18 navy personnel and damaged aircraft before being killed in a counter-attack. The attack means that peace talks between the government and the Taliban are effectively dead and authorities would have to find a way to control the militants who have killed more than 40,000 people since 2004.

The attack “was in response to the recent attacks by the government,” a spokesman for the Taliban said by telephone. “We will continue carrying out such attacks,” he added.

Pakistan’s government has been trying to negotiate a peace deal with local Taliban fighters and other militants who have been waging war against the government.

But the talks have had little success.

The attack has once again highlighted concerns that Pakistan is not able to protect sensitive targets from militant groups.

Security beefed up at major Indian airports: Security has been beefed up at 59 major airports across the country, including the Indira Gandhi International Airport in the capital. Over 23,000 Central Industrial Security Force personnel, deployed at these airports, have been instructed to be more vigilant.

Meanwhile, condemning the terror attack, the External Affairs Ministry said in a statement that the strike underlines the magnitude of danger posed by terrorism, which must be fought urgently and comprehensively, without making any exception.

The MEA further said, “If left unchecked, terrorism will continue to hinder efforts to promote national economic development, overcome poverty and provide people better quality of lives.

MODI SIGNATURE, SAYS SAYEED

JuD chief Hafiz Saeed, the mastermind of the 26/11 Mumbai attacks, took to Twitter to allege that Narendra Modi’s  ‘new security team’ was responsible for the attack on the Karachi airport.  ‘’Karachi airport is an attack on Pakistan. Modi’s new security team is behind this act of war by India. Nation knows the real enemy.’’ The militant Jamat-ud-Dawah drummed a similar message when it posted, ‘‘Spectacle at Karachi Airport is Modi’s plan against Pakistan. It is direct response to Pakistan’s needless appeasement of new Hindutva Government.’’ Another tweet went like this: ‘‘DG Rangers says Indian made weapons recovered from terrorists. Modi’s name was inscribed in Sanskrit!’’

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