Peshawar : At least three rockets were fired at the airport and nearby areas of Peshawar city in northwest Pakistan on Saturday, killing 5 persons and injuring 45 others, witnesses and rescue workers said.
The rockets, fired from an unknown location, landed on the perimeter of the Bacha Khan International Airport, University Town and another residential neighborhood at around 9 p.m., witnesses said.
The rockets were fired from the tribal areas adjoining Peshawar, the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. The blasts were followed by intense firing, and security forces returned fire, officials said.
Five bodies and 45 injured. Four of the wounded were in a serious condition and were mistakenly included among the dead shortly after the attack, he said.
Children, women and senior citizens were among the injured, all of whom were civilians.
They were injured by shrapnel from the rockets and bullets.
The blasts occurred very near to my home as my residence is also very close to the Peshawar Airport. The first blast shook our residence and shattered our glass panes but luckily the heavy curtains saved us from injuries. Some of the terrorists are still believed to be holed up in a home opposite to the boundary wall which is adjacent and parallel to Runway 35 of Peshawar Airport. I myself saw two dead bodies and many injured in our hospital as all of them were brought to our hospital, as it is very nearby to the blast site “ Doctor Said.
The Army cordoned off the airport as all flights were cancelled.
Troops conducted an operation to ascertain if any militants had entered the airport.
TV channels reported that troops were exchanging fire with suspected militants almost 40 minutes after the rockets were fired at the airport.
No group claimed responsibility for the incident though such attacks are usually blamed on the Pakistani Taliban.
“No terrorist has been able to penetrate inside (the air field),” Group Captain Tariq Mahmood, a spokesman for the Pakistan Air Force, said in a statement. “Security forces were fully alert and are in control of the situation.”
Mr Mahmood added there had been no casualties among the Pakistan Air Force or damage to equipment during the incident.
Pakistani television footage showed a vehicle with a smashed windscreen, another damaged car, bushes on fire and what appeared to be a large breach in a wall.
Meanwhile, the injured, four of them critical, have been shifted to hospitals. Most of the victims include children, women and senior citizens. “An emergency has been declared in the hospital and all the surgeons have been called,” said Umar Ayub, chief executive of the Khyber Teaching Hospital Peshawar. “All of them suffered bullet injuries and some of the injured are in critical condition.”
Pervez George, spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority, confirmed that the airport had been closed and flights cancelled, but said there had been no damage to the airport building or terminals.
“If needed, we will divert incoming flights to Islamabad and (the eastern city of) Lahore,” he told AFP
“The airport is closed and the lights have been turned off,” .