Up to ten gunmen dressed as airport security guards attacked Karachi's Jinnah International Airport tonight, killing at least nine airport personnel.
The attack occurred near the old airport terminal, also known as the Hajj terminal — which has been typically used for charter flights and those making the pilgrimage to Mecca.
The airport is located in the Sindh province, which is home to Pakistan's largest city, Karachi.
The gunmen, who were dressed as Airport Security Force guards, entered from the old airport terminal. They were armed with AK-47s, hand grenades, suicide vests, night-vision goggles, and other automatic rifles, according to Ranger personnel.
Authorities said the gunmen also had food items on them, including bread. This could indicate that the they were prepared for a lengthy attack.
Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) officials said all the gunmen were killed during the five-hour operation carried out by Rangers and the Army overnight and into early Monday morning local time.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack yet and it is unknown why the gunmen attacked the airport. A similar attack occurred at a naval airport in 2011 where attackers killed at least 10 military personnel.
Shortly after the attack began, authorities suspended and diverted flights to other airports.
Roads leading to the airport terminals were closed and authorities imposed a state of emergency across hospitals in the city.
All travelers were safely evacuated from the airport terminals.
“We are under attack by terrorists. No one can go out, we are in security of army commandos, no pic or call allowed,” witness Kamal Faridi said via messages posted on Facebook from the airport terminal. “Intense firing between the terrorist(s) and army commandos is still continuing and terrorist(s) are using automatic weapons, hand grenade.”
Faridi said they were later taken to a secure zone but could still hear gunfire.
“We are not allowed to take calls, So don't call to get updates, Still hearing heavy gunshots,” Faridi said.
Local media video footage showed smoke coming from near the terminal. Firefighters have since extinguished the blaze.
Elsewhere, in the Pakistan province of Baluchistan, suicide bombers killed 23 Shiite pilgrims staying at hotel near the Iran border in a separate incident tonight, according to the Associated Press.