1 dead after shots fired at Pakistani plane

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — Authorities in Pakistan were
looking for a gunman who opened fire at a plane Tuesday evening just as
it was landing in the volatile northwest, killing one person and
wounding two others, officials said, casting fresh doubts about security
at the country’s airports.
The violence in Peshawar comes just
two weeks after gunmen laid siege to the country’s busiest airport in
Karachi in an attack that shocked Pakistanis and the international
community and helped trigger a long-awaited military offensive against
militants in the northwest.
A female passenger on board the plane
died on the way to the hospital, said Mashood Tajwar, a spokesman for
the national carrier, Pakistan International Airlines. He said 178
passengers and an undetermined number of crew were on board.
other people on the flight were also wounded, said Dost Muhammad Khan,
the station house officer in charge of the area. The plane was coming
from Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, said Khan and the passengers were believed to
mostly be Pakistanis who go to Saudi Arabia to work. He said the woman
had been visiting her husband and had also gone on a religious
"When the plane was about the land, we heard shots and
suddenly there was chaos in the flight," said an unidentified male
passenger, speaking to Dunya TV outside the airport.
initially said five bullets hit the plane as it was coming in to the
airport, but the Senior Superintendent of Police, Najeeb ur Rehman
Bhagvi, said when he and other authorities later inspected the plane
they found at least ten bullet holes.
The plane was about 300 feet
(90 meters) off the ground when someone opened fire on it from below
with a sub-machine gun or an AK-47, Bhagvi said.
Authorities were scouring the area around the airport to find whoever is responsible, Khan said.
was no immediate claim of responsibility but suspicion will likely fall
on militants that the government has been fighting in the country’s
The Pakistani Taliban has been attempting for years to
overthrow the government and establish their hardline form of Islam
across the country.
Peshawar is located on the edge of the tribal
regions where militant groups such as al-Qaida and the Taliban are based
and over the years the city has become a frequent target of bombings
and shootings.
The Peshawar airport has a military and civilian
side. In Dec. 2012 suicide bombers armed with rockets attacked the
military side of the airport, killing four civilians.
After the
Karachi airport assault, the military announced a major operation on
June 15 against militants who have been using the country’s North
Waziristan tribal area as a safe haven from which to launch attacks
against targets in Pakistan as well as Afghanistan.
The U.S. had
been pushing the government and military to clear the area of militants
since groups such as the Haqqani network and others used North
Waziristan as a base strike at NATO and Afghan troops.
Hundreds of
thousands of refugees have poured out of North Waziristan since the
operation started, although so far it has mostly consisted of airstrikes
against militant hideouts.
People across Pakistan have been bracing for reprisal attacks ever since the operation got under way.
operation came after the Pakistani Taliban and an Uzbek militant group
attacked the airport in the southern port city of Karachi. During the
audacious attack, gunmen battled with airport security and other law
enforcement authorities for roughly five hours.
The mayhem shocked the country and raised questions about the security of other airports around Pakistan.

Associated Press writers Zarar Khan and Rebecca Santana in Islamabad contributed to this report.