“Everybody knows there is going to be a blowback”

“I was terrified”…Phimraphat Wisetsoem could see and
hear explosions from her seat on a Thai International Airways aircraft.
It was trapped near the runway along with an Emirates jet and contained
hundreds of passengers.
Phimraphat suspected that hijackers in disguise had already boarded her plane.   

Yes, finally we face the truth (maybe). The lion and the lamb are not going to be happy bed-mates.  

But as usual the Pankajists have done their job and the common (wise)man will not be blamed for uttering such drivel:

What a clever analysis!! both Mumbai and Karachi airport attackers were
using cell phones so they must be related!! Bravo! what a level of
intelligence shown here. Mumbai was a false flag operation while the
Karachi airport attack is done by trained uzbuks who works for foreign
intelligence agencies.

….
It was the shoes that betrayed Corporal Faiz Mohammad’s would-be killers. When 10 Taliban militants attacked Karachi airport
on Sunday night, sparking a five-hour gun battle that killed at least
34 people, Mohammad and his fellow officers from the Airports Security
Force (ASF) were the first line of defence.

“There was a moment of confusion because the militants had the same ASF uniforms as us,” said Mohammad, 30. “But
then we saw their shoes.” ASF officers wear black leather shoes, but
the men who stormed Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, wore
white-soled sneakers. 

That
the Taliban failed in its main objective – to hijack an aircraft and
hold its passengers hostage – should bring no comfort to embattled Prime
Minister Nawaz Sharif, since the attack signals an alarming shift in
tactics by an increasingly formidable foe.

The strike at the
airport in Karachi, home to 18 million people, deals a blow to Sharif’s
bid to attract foreign investors to revive the economy. It has also
destroyed prospects for peace talks with the Taliban and made an all-out
military offensive against militant strongholds along the Afghan border
a near-certainty.

A
top Taliban commander confirmed to Reuters that attacks involving
aircraft were part of a new strategy to counter the government’s
preparations for a full-scale operation against them in North
Waziristan. “We decided to change our strategy and hit their main economic centres,” he said. “They will kill innocent people by their bombs and we will hit their nerve-centres in major cities.”

Tariq
Azeem, a senior official in Sharif’s administration, said a full-scale
military operation was imminent in North Waziristan, and seemed resigned
to it sparking terror attacks elsewhere in Pakistan. “Everybody knows there is going to be a blowback,” he said. 

The Taliban is most likely to rely on small militant teams, emulating
the protracted, high-impact operations like those in Mumbai in 2008 and
Nairobi’s Westgate mall last year.

“In Mumbai, and in Kenya, you
will find a lot of similarities,” said Muhammad Amir Rana, director of
the Islamabad-based think tank Pak Institute for Peace Studies.

“They
(the Taliban) are adopting this as their prime strategy.” The
similarities between the Karachi and Mumbai incidents are startling and
instructive.

The attack on Mumbai, India’s largest city, was carried out by Lashkar-e-Taiba.
It lasted three days, killed 166 people and transfixed the world.
As with Karachi, it was meticulously planned and involved well-trained and heavily armed militants.
In both cases, a 10-man team quickly split into pairs and carried provision-stuffed knapsacks in preparation for a long siege.
In Mumbai, militants used mobile phones to coordinate with handlers in Pakistan and with each other in the heat of battle.
Their Karachi counterparts were also seen using mobile phones during the assault.
Lashkar-e-Taiba
has said it has no connection with any attacks on Pakistani soil and
there is no evidence that it works with the Taliban.

The attack began at 11.05 p.m, with five of the militants breaching the Fokker Gate with assault rifles and grenades.
Minutes
later, as the ASF fought back, a second five-strong squad attacked the
nearby Cargo Gate. Both gates granted access to the cargo area in the
airport’s west.

Azeem, the administration official, praised the ASF while admitting how hard it was to protect the sprawling airport. “You need almost two brigades to cover . . . every inch of it,” he said.
“Any
entrance will have two, three, four people who are fully armed, but one
burst of machinegun fire will kill all four of them and you can enter.”

By
11.30 p.m., a contingent of police and paramilitary Rangers had arrived
at the airport, followed 30 minutes later by an army unit. They
formed what Azeem called “the second or the third layer” of airport
security which stopped the militant advance on the main passenger
terminal further east.

The gunfire was now
punctuated by the boom of militants firing rocket-propelled grenades
(RPGs). They had come prepared for a long fight. Their knapsacks
contained water, medicine and food. Some were spotted using cellphones
during the attack, said a security official involved in the
investigation, although it was unclear who they were talking to – each
other, or distant commanders.

Phimraphat Wisetsoem could see and
hear explosions from her seat on a Thai International Airways aircraft.
It was trapped near the runway along with an Emirates jet and contained
hundreds of passengers. Phimraphat suspected that hijackers in disguise had already boarded her plane. “I was terrified,” she told reporters as she arrived back in Bangkok. “I sat still and didn’t dare move around.” Passengers on both planes were later safely evacuated.

Just
after midnight, as all outbound flights were suspended and inbound
flights diverted to other airports, there was a large explosion near
Fokker Gate: the first militant had detonated his suicide vest.

By now, dead and wounded were being ferried to the nearby Jinnah Hospital.

Their
numbers rose steadily through the night – by morning, the hospital
would report 16 dead and dozens injured – as security forces intensified
their counter-attack.

As the fighting raged outside, seven
employees from a cargo company took refuge in a warehouse – as it turned
out, a fateful decision. They burned to death.

Elsewhere, Hamid Khan, 22, a junior technician, hid with eight other men in the washroom of an aircraft maintenance company.
A
hand-grenade blew off part of the roof and bullets peppered a nearby
container. “If anyone is inside, come out now!” shouted someone – friend
or foe, Hamid couldn’t tell. He and his colleagues kept silent and
stayed put. “I was so afraid that I started reading my last prayers,” he
said, his voice still shaking with emotion days later.

Two more militants would blow themselves up.

By
4 a.m, all 10 were dead, their shattered bodies sprawled in pairs
across the tarmac. It had taken 150 security personnel to counter them.

The Rangers identified them as ethnic Uzbeks.
Pakistani officials often accuse foreign militants of staging attacks alongside the Taliban.
“We
admit we carried out this attack with the help of our other brotherly
mujahideen groups,” the senior member of Taliban told Reuters. 

In daylight, Karachi airport resembled a war zone. Smoke billowed from gutted buildings.
Rescue
workers retrieved the seven cargo company employees, their corpses
charred beyond recognition, and raised the death toll to 34.

Junior
technician Hamid Khan and the other eight emerged unscathed from their
washroom refuge. “I felt as if God had heard our prayers,” he said.

At
least three passenger aircraft, all unoccupied, were damaged during the
battle, a senior Pakistani security official told Reuters.

A
satellite photo on Google Earth showed a fourth aircraft in the cargo
area completely destroyed, its broken wings lying amid the blackened
remains of its fuselage. However, officials have not confirmed the
destruction of any aircraft. Even as flights resumed and the clean-up began, Taliban struck the airport again.

On Tuesday evening, gunmen on motorbikes opened fire on an ASF academy, although there were no casualties.
There would be “many more such attacks” in future, Pakistani Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid told Reuters.
Adil Najam, dean of Boston University’s Pardee School of Global Studies, agreed.
Karachi
was “not just another terrorist attack,” he said. “It is among the
latest skirmishes in what is now an actual war between the Pakistan Army
and the Taliban. 

……..

Link: http://www.dawn.com/news/1112251/karachi-airport-attack-signals-alarming-tactical-shift-by-taliban

…..

regards

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