A female passenger was killed and two flight attendants were injured when a Pakistan International Airlines plane came under fire while landing in the country’s northwestern city of Peshawar.
The flight PK-756 coming from Saudi Arabia was attacked around 11 p.m. local time yesterday as it approached the Peshawar International Airport, PIA spokesman Mashhood Tajwar said by phone. The plane was carrying 196 passengers, he said, adding the woman who was killed was a Pakistani citizen.
“This is the first time a passenger plane has been fired on mid-air,” Tajwar said in comments to state-run Pakistan Television. “It remains to be seen what type of weapon was used and from what range the plane was fired on.”
No one has yet claimed the responsibility for the attack, which came two weeks after the attack on Pakistan’s biggest airport in the city of Karachi that killed 36 people, including 10 assailants. The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, known as the TTP, claimed the responsibility for the Karachi airport assault.
Prompted by the Karachi airport attack, Pakistani military on June 15 began a major operation in the North Waziristan tribal region near the border with Afghanistan, which is a major sanctuary for Taliban militants and their allies. A day later, Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid warned foreign investors, airlines and multinational companies to cut off business with Pakistan.
As many as 47 militants were killed yesterday in air strikes in North Waziristan and another tribal region of Khyber which also borders on Afghanistan, the military said in a statement. More than 330 Taliban insurgents have been killed in air strikes and shooting since the operation began. The military is yet to mount the ground offensive.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif won an election last year after pledging peace talks with the TTP, the group at the forefront of an insurgency that has killed 50,000 people since 2001. Negotiations that began in March collapsed over the TTP’s demands for prisoner releases.
The TTP is a loose alliance of militant and sectarian organizations fighting Pakistani troops in the tribal border region. Taliban militants are opposed to the country’s alliance with the U.S. and want to impose their version of Islamic Shariah law in Pakistan, which includes a ban on music and stricter rules for women.