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Gunmen storm Pakistan airport, killing at least 13

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A Pakistani soldier takes position at Jinnah International Airport where security forces are fighting with gunmen who disguised themselves as police guards and stormed a terminal used for VIPs and cargo, Sunday night, June 8, 2014, in Pakistan. The airport attack still was ongoing early Monday in Karachi, a sprawling port city on the southern coast of Pakistan, although officials said all the passengers had been evacuated. (AP Photo/Shakil Adil)

A Pakistani soldier takes position at Jinnah International Airport where security forces are fighting with gunmen who disguised themselves as police guards and stormed a terminal used for VIPs and cargo, Sunday night, June 8, 2014, in Pakistan. The airport attack still was ongoing early Monday in Karachi, a sprawling port city on the southern coast of Pakistan, although officials said all the passengers had been evacuated. (AP Photo/Shakil Adil)

Volunteers look at dead bodies of people killed during an attack by unknown gunmen on Jinnah International Airport, Sunday night, June 8, 2014, in Karachi, Pakistan. Gunmen disguised as police guards stormed an airport terminal used for VIPs and cargo in Pakistan’s largest city Sunday night, killing at least nine people as explosions echoed into the night, officials said. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)

Pakistani police commandos help an injured colleague at Jinnah International Airport where security forces are fighting with gunmen who disguised themselves as police guards and stormed a terminal used for VIPs and cargo, Sunday night, June 8, 2014, in Pakistan. The airport attack still was ongoing early Monday in Karachi, a sprawling port city on the southern coast of Pakistan, although officials said all the passengers had been evacuated. (AP Photo/Shakil Adil)

Pakistani commandos get ready to enter Karachi airport terminal following attacks by unknown gunmen on Sunday night, June 8, 2014, in Pakistan. Gunmen stormed an airport terminal used for VIPs and cargo in Pakistan’s largest city on Sunday night, killing and wounding scores of people, officials said. (AP Photo/Shakil Adil)

Pakistan army troops arrive at Karachi airport following an attack by unknown gunmen disguised as police guards who stormed a terminal used for VIPs and cargo, Sunday night, June 8, 2014, in Pakistan. The airport attack still was ongoing early Monday in Karachi, a sprawling port city on the southern coast of Pakistan, although officials said all the passengers had been evacuated. (AP Photo/Fareed Khan)

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KARACHI, Pakistan (AP) — Gunmen disguised as police guards attacked a terminal at Pakistan’s busiest airport Sunday with machine guns and a rocket launcher during a five-hour siege that killed 13 people as explosions echoed into the night, officials said.

A separate suicide bombing in the country’s southwest killed 23 Shiite pilgrims returning from Iran, authorities said.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack on the Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, named after the founder of Pakistan, nor the suicide bombing in Baluchistan province. However, the attacks come as government-led peace talks with the local Taliban faction and other militants have floundered in recent weeks.

The airport attack began late Sunday and continued on into the dawn hours of Monday in Karachi, a sprawling port city on Pakistan’s southern coast, although officials said all the passengers had been evacuated. During the course of the attack, heavy gunfire and multiple explosions could be heard coming from the terminal, used for VIP flights and cargo, as militants and security forces battled for control. A major fire rose from the airport, illuminating the night sky in an orange glow as the silhouettes of jets could be seen.

The deadly operation was carried out by 10 militants, said the Chief Minister of Sindh province, Qaim Ali Shah.

“They were well trained. Their plan was very well thought out,” he told reporters. He said they intended to destroy some of the aircraft and buildings but were not able to.

The spokesman for the Pakistani military, Gen. Asim Bajwa, said on Twitter that no aircraft were damaged and that as a precautionary measure, security forces were sweeping the airport before operations would be returned to the Civil Aviation Authority and airport police.

At least some of the gunmen wore the uniforms of the Airport Security Force that protects the nation’s airports, said an official who briefed journalists near the airport. He said all were strapped with explosives. He said one of them tried to capture a vehicle used by the Civil Aviation Authority and when a guard shot at him, the explosives strapped to his body went off. The official said another attacker also blew up after being shot at by security forces.

The official described himself as being with one of the country’s intelligence agencies but declined to give his name.

After storming into the airport grounds, gunmen took shelter in two sections of the airport, said senior police officer Ghulam Qadir Thebo.

“The blast you heard a little while ago was when our police party went to pick up a body (and) one of the attackers blew himself up,” Thebo said

Authorities seized four machine guns and a rocket launcher, Thebo said. He said the billowing smoke and flames was from oil that had caught fire.

Dr. Seemi Jamali from Jinnah Hospital in Karachi said 13 bodies had been brought to the hospital from the fighting. She said nine were Airport Security Force personnel, one was a member of the paramilitary Rangers, one was from the police, one was an employee of the Civil Aviation Authority and another was from the state-run Pakistan International Airlines.

Authorities diverted incoming flights and suspended all flight operations. A spokesman for the Civil Aviation Authority said the airport would be closed until at least Monday night.

Sarmad Hussain, a PIA employee, told The Associated Press he was at the airport at the time of the attack.

“I was working at my office when I heard big blasts — several blasts — and then there were heavy gunshots,” Hussain said. He said he and a colleague jumped out

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