Canada strongly condemns Karachi airport attack, Uzbek militant group claims responsibility

Karachi airport attackFOREIGN Affairs Minister John Baird on Monday said Canada “strongly condemns the savage attack at Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, Pakistan, that killed at least 24 people.”

He added: “There are no words to describe this despicable act of terror. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, who have claimed responsibility for the attack, must be held accountable.

“On behalf of all Canadians, I extend my condolences to the families and friends of those who lost their lives, and I wish a speedy recovery to the injured. At this point, we can confirm that there are no Canadian citizens among the victims.

“This attack only strengthens our resolve to combat terrorism, in all its forms, and those who sponsor it. Canada will continue to work with the people of Pakistan and our allies to help Pakistan address the challenges it faces.”

On July 5, 2011, Canada listed the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan as a terrorist group, pursuant to the Criminal Code of Canada.

ON Wednesday IANS reported: An Uzbek terrorist group, whose members are believed to be hiding in Pakistan’s restive Waziristan tribal region, has claimed that its fighters had had staged Sunday’s deadly attack on Karachi airport.

Head of the Pakistani paramilitary forces, Rizwan Akhtar, had earlier stated the attackers share resemblance with Uzbeks, Xinhua reported Wednesday.

Uzbek militants, who are affiliated with the Pakistani Taliban and al-Qaeda, had been hiding in North and South Waziristan for years.

Waziristan is a mountainous area in Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) region in north-western Pakistan bordering Afghanistan.

“Usman Ghazi, the leader of the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (IMU), claimed responsibility for Sunday’s terrorist attack on Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport in a statement published on a Pakistani jihadist forum Tuesday,” Xinhua quoted, a previously unknown website, as saying.

The website said it offered strategic analysis of political and security issues in Pakistan.

Pakistani Taliban had earlier claimed responsibility for the attack that has claimed lives of nearly 30 people.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Shahidullah Shahid has now claimed that it was a joint Taliban and IMU operation.

The Uzbek militant group described the attacks as revenge for Pakistani air-strikes in North Waziristan May 21 that targeted areas populated by Uzbek and other foreign militants.

“The IMU claims to have destroyed fighter jets and US drones that were not visible to commercial airline passengers at the airport. There is no evidence to corroborate this claim. It is highly unlikely that drone aircraft would operate from an airport in Karachi, a congested megacity,” the website said.

Uzbek fighters had been expelled from South Waziristan by a Taliban leader Mulla Nazir after the locals had turned against them for their harsh behaviour with the tribesmen. They had then moved to North Waziristan and mostly live in Mir Ali area. The area had been focus of the military air-strikes in recent weeks.

Ghazi, the IMU leader, called on Muslims in Pakistan to wage a war against the Pakistani state, according to the Pakistanrisk website.

Pakistani security personnel have asserted that there were ten attackers.

The IMU statement purports that ten of its terrorists died in the attempted siege.

IANS had reported on Monday: At least 23 people, including 10 terrorists, were killed at Pakistan’s Jinnah International Airport in Karachi after it came under attack Sunday night, a leading Pakistani daily reported.

The entire airport has been cleared and all terrorists have been killed, a Pakistan Army spokesperson was quoted as saying by The Dawn.

Major General Asim Bajwa, spokesperson for Inter Services Public Relations (ISPR), said the terrorists “were confined to two areas and eliminated”.

He said that weapons and live ammunition were recovered from the terrorists, adding that they were wearing large packs on their bodies.

The ISPR spokesperson said that Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif “congratulated participating troops for a well coordinated, successful operation eliminating all terrorists”.

At least 18 security personnel were also injured in the attack who were shifted to Abbasi Shaheed Hospital.

According to a statement by the spokesperson of the Prime Minister House, the militants entered the airport from a terminal used for cargo and special VIP operations at about 11:20 p.m.

The heavily armed assailants used forged ID cards of Airport Security Force (ASF), according to The Dawn. The attackers then engaged with security forces in a fierce gunbattle that lasted for hours.

The attackers also set an oil terminal and a building on fire.

The airport fire was put out by fire fighters who said that 30 vehicles were involved in the operation.

Army troops were called in to deal with the situation and all the routes to the airport were sealed.

Huge explosions were heard during the attack as intermittent firing took place at the airport.
Large plumes of smoke were seen over the cargo terminal, the daily reported.

A hand grenade attack was also carried out on the Isphani Hanger.

“No damage to aircraft, fire visible in pics was not plane but a building, now extinguished. All vital assets intact,” Bajwa tweeted.

Earlier, the media reported that the militants set two airplanes including cargo plane of a foreign company on fire and partially damaged four others by firing at them.

Suicide bombers were reportedly part of the terrorist squad that had infiltrated the airport.

All flight operations at the airport were suspended and flights diverted to other cities.