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Pakistani forces sweep Karachi airport after overnight battle

Pakistani forces have declared Karachi’s Jinnah International Airport secure after a late night gun battle with infiltrators, which resulted in 21 fatalities but during which no aircraft appear to have been damaged.

A spokesman for Pakistan International Airlines(PIA) tells Flightglobal 21 died in the incident, including “all ten terrorists". The 11 others killed comprised security officers, airport officials, and airline employees. Reports suggest up to 14 people were wounded as well.

The reports suggest that the infiltrators, who were armed with assault rifles, grenades, and suicide vests, were spotted attempting to cut through a fence, sparking the battle at about 11:30 local time. Other reports indicate that they gained access to the airport using fake ID cards.

The attempted infiltration occurred about 1.5km from the main terminal, so it appears passengers in the main terminal and the commercial aircraft parked there were not immediately threatened.

All flights, however, were cancelled and arriving aircraft diverted. The airport remains closed while security forces conduct a detailed sweep of the airport and its grounds.

The PIA spokesman denies that any aircraft were damaged in the incident. He says an oil depot suffered damage, which accounts for the plumes of dark smoke rising from the airfield.

The attack bears some similarity to a 22 May 2011 incident in which Pakistani Taliban militants infiltrated PNS Mehran base near Karachi late at night. The militants destroyed two Pakistan navy Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion aircraft, and it took Pakistani forces 15h to regain control of the base.

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