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Firefight at Karachi Airport leaves 23 people dead

Firefight at Karachi Airport leaves 23 people dead

By Julianne Cassidy. CREATED Jun 8, 2014

A five-hour seige at Pakistan's largest airport, Karachi's Jinnah International, has left 23 people dead including all 10 attackers and 13 others. The  expolsive firefight began on Sunday night in a V.I.P and cargo area of the airport and continued into Monday morning when the last of the atackers was killed.

Among the dead are 10 members of the Airport Security Forces and a flight engineer with Pakistan International Airlines, the state airline, reports The New York Times.

"Security forces sealed off the airport, and flights began being diverted away from Karachi soon after the firing began," the Times reports. "Witnesses saw heavy plumes of smoke rising from the airport, and one Pakistani news channel showed footage of a large fire burning close to a plane. Officials said military forces based nearby had been called in to help."

"Some of the attackers were wearing suicide vests, and at least one blew himself up when police officers approached," the Times reports.

"One government official said that the attackers managed to get near a runway, lobbing hand grenades and firing automatic weapons," further reports The New York Times. "It was unclear who was behind the attack; there was no immediate claim of responsibility, though initial suspicion fell on the Pakistani Taliban or one of its splinter groups. The militant group resumed attacks after a short cease-fire that was called while the government of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif tried to conduct peace talks."

The airport is expected to re-open to commercial traffic Monday afternoon.