PESHAWAR: Unidentified gunmen opened fire on a passenger plane landing at the main airport in Peshawar, killing one passenger and wounding two crew members, police and airline representatives said Wednesday.
The incident took place late Tuesday as the Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight arrived at Peshawar from Riyadh in Saudi Arabia carrying more than 170 passengers, airline spokesman Mashud Tajwar said. The plane landed safely, Tajwar said.
The PIA flight, PK 756, was carrying 178 passengers travelling from Saudi Arabia when it came under attack, policeman Asghar Khan said at the airport.
The plane was hit by six bullets, police said, killing the woman and narrowly missing the captain. At least one bullet struck the plane’s engine, police said. The woman’s daughter was sitting next to her when she was shot in the head, PIA official Mohammad Kifayatullah Khan said. “When I went inside the plane, I saw the woman lying on the seat and her nine-year-old daughter was crying, ‘My mother is dead, my mother is dead’,” said Khan.
“All the passengers were panicked. Some of them wanted to get out as soon as possible because they were afraid of fire inside the plane.”
One of the injured flight steward, identified as Ijaz Chaudhry, has been shifted to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) where his condition is reported to be critical.
An initial report prepared by the pilot said at least 10 bullets were fired at the plane as it was some 3.5 miles off airport. One engine of the plane was damaged due to fire and the pilot landed the aircraft on one engine.
Emergency was declared at the airport and two more Peshawar-bound flights were reportedly diverted to Lahore after the incident.
A search operation has been initiated by the ASF and local police.
This is the third such incident at the Peshawar airport. On April 29, rockets were fired on Bacha Khan International Airport that hit an army barrack on Khyber Road. On February 26, two rockets landed inside Peshawar airport however no damage was reported.
The suspected attack follows a major Taliban assault on Karachi airport earlier this month that killed at least 32 people including all 10 attackers. The security was put on a high alert around the area amidst military’s ongoing operation Zarb-e-Azb against militants in North Waziristan Agency.
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