- The Washington Times - Monday, June 9, 2014

The group of highly-trained Pakistani Taliban militants who laid siege to the international airport in the southern Pakistani city of Karachi on Sunday night were aiming to hijack several airplanes, a spokesman for the militants said.

The gunmen were stopped short by security forces during an intense, five-hour-long firefight at Jinnah International Airport, with at least 27 people killed, including 10 of the Taliban attackers, according to wire reports and Pakistani officials.

Three of the attackers were killed when the detonated suicide bombs strapped to their bodies. It was not immediately clear on Monday whether any of the attackers had survived a counter-assault by Pakistani security forces at the airport.

The Pakistani Taliban said they carried out the attack in response to air strikes carried out against them in their strongholds near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border and that the mission was to hijack passenger planes.

“The main goal of this attack was to damage the government, including by hijacking planes and destroying state installations,” said Shahidullah Shahid, a Taliban spokesman, according to a report Monday by Reuters.

“This was just an example of what we are capable of and there is more to come. The government should be ready for even worse attacks,” the Taliban spokesman said.

There was no immediate comment on the incident Monday from the Obama administration or other U.S. officials in Washington.

CNN reported that Pakistan’s government had warned during recent days of a possible “high-profile attack on a sensitive or key installation,” but that the warning had not mentioned the international airport in Karachi.

The attack left several planes in a state of limbo on the airports runways, while incoming flights were diverted to other airports.

Farooq Sattar, a member of Pakistan’s parliament, was on one of the planes at the airport when the attack unfolded, according to CNN, which quoted the lawmaker as saying he and other passengers “felt like sitting ducks on the tarmac.”