|The Karachi airport terminal on Sunday. (AP)
Islamabad, June 8: Gunmen attacked Pakistan’s Karachi airport tonight, apparently seeking to hijack a plane, setting several aircraft on fire and engaging in heavy firefight with security forces.
At least two persons were killed in the attack on the VIP and cargo area of the old terminal of Jinnah International Airport. Sources said scores had been injured.
Initial reports said at least seven aircraft had been set on fire after commandos foiled the attempt to hijack a plane.
Witnesses spoke of thick plumes of smoke rising from the airport and television footage showed a large fire burning close to a plane.
One official said the attackers managed to get near a runway, lobbing hand grenades and firing automatic weapons.
Officials in Karachi, Pakistan’s commercial hub, said all flights had been diverted. “All flights destined for Karachi have been diverted to other cities,” said a civil aviation authority spokesperson.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack.
Around 10 men, wearing the uniforms of security personnel, entered the building and were locked in a gun battle with security forces at midnight.
A private television channel, quoting a witness, said: “Over half-a-dozen armed men made towards the runway from the backside of the airport.”
The old airport houses the offices of the airport security force and civil aviation and the engineering wing of Pakistan International Airlines (PIA).
Pakistan Army contingents were called in from the nearby Malir cantonment to tackle the situation.
“The bodies of four airport security personnel have been brought to the Jinnah hospital,” Seemi Jamali, a doctor, told reporters at the state-owned hospital.