Three killed as militants fire rockets at Pakistan airport


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The Independent Online

Militants fired three rockets at an airport in the north-western Pakistani city of Peshawar tonight, killing three people and wounding over 30 others.

Peshawar is located on the edge of Pakistan's tribal region, the main sanctuary for al-Qa'ida and Taliban militants in the country. The city has been hit by repeated attacks in the past few years but an attack on the airport is rare.

None of the rockets landed inside the main airport area, which is jointly used by civilian authorities and the air force, said Pervez George, a spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority.

Two of the rockets damaged a wall that surrounds the airport, and a third landed near a government building outside the premises, said Mian Iftikhar Hussain, the information minister in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where Peshawar is the capital. A gun battle broke out between security forces and militants after the rocket attack.

No militants were able to enter the airport, said the air force. No air force personnel were injured and none of their planes were damaged, it said.

The dead and wounded from the attack came from the neighbourhoods located near the airport, said Umar Ayub, a local hospital official. The wounded included women and children, and several people were in a critical condition, said Mr Ayub.

Local TV footage showed people in the neighbourhoods near the airport rushing for safety as the attack occurred. One car was damaged by the rocket fire and another was set on fire. A house was also damaged.

The airport has been closed, and flights are being diverted to other cities, said Mr George, the civil aviation spokesman.