Gunmen opened fire near Karachi’s airport Tuesday, a day after a brazen Taliban attack on Pakistan’s busiest airport that left at least 36 people dead.
The deputy general of the Airport Security Force, Colonel Tahir Ali, told reporters that at least two gunmen on a motorbike targeted the ASF’s training academy on Tuesday, but fled after security forces retaliated. No one was reportedly hurt in the latest incident in Pakistan’s southern port city and financial hub.
Ali says a search operation is underway to find the attackers. The Civil Aviation Authority briefly suspended flights to and from the nearby Karachi airport but operations later resumed.
Taliban claims responsibility
The Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attack and warned of further violence.
The incident comes on the heels of the Taliban’s five-hour siege of Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport that ended early Monday.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif convened a meeting of top military and government officials Tuesday to discuss the security situation in the wake of the airport attack.
Also Tuesday, Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan said Sunday’s attackers carried rocket launchers and rocket-propelled grenades. He told the national parliament the attackers tried to destroy aircraft but were prevented from doing so by ASF personnel who sacrificed their lives to “save national assets.”
The interior minister also said the attackers were carrying a huge quantity of food and medicine — what he called a indication that they had planned to create a hostage situation.
Officials say 10 gunmen were among those killed along with seven workers, whose bodies were found on Tuesday in an airport cold storage facility.
Investigators say the bodies of the cargo company workers were burned beyond recognition. The workers had sought refuge in the facility, however it was engulfed in flames as gunmen attacked the airport.
Hours before the airport attack, suspected Sunni Muslim militants on Sunday killed at least 26 Shi’ite pilgrims in a suicide attack on buses carrying the worshippers in the town of Taftan, near the Iranian border. Authorities say one bomber was killed, while three others blew themselves up.
UN chief ‘deeply concerned’
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday he is “deeply concerned” about the surge in violence across Pakistan. He urged the Islamabad government to boost efforts to protect the rights of all people to practice their religion safely.
In another development, the Pakistani military carried out a series of air strikes Tuesday on suspected militant targets in the northwestern Khyber region. The military says at least 25 militants have been killed.
Critics said the airport siege dealt a critical blow to Prime Minister Sharif’s efforts to negotiate a peace settlement with the Taliban, which ended a six-week cease-fire in April. The attack also puts pressure on the prime minister and military leaders to launch a formal offensive against militant strongholds in North Waziristan tribal agency.
A Taliban spokesman linked the airport attack to recent military strikes against militant bases along the Afghan border and last year’s killing of the group’s leader, Hakimullah Mehsud, in a suspected U.S. drone strike.
VOA’s Ayaz Gul contributed to this report from Islamabad, Pakistan.