Gunmen open fire on jet landing in Pakistan, one dead

Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) officials move the dead body of a woman to an ambulance at the Bacha Khan International Airport in Peshawar on June 25, 2014, after an attack on a Pakistan International Airlines flight. Gunmen opened fire o
Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) officials move the dead body of a woman to an ambulance at the Bacha Khan International Airport in Peshawar on June 25, 2014, after an attack on a Pakistan International Airlines flight. Gunmen opened fire on a passenger jet while it was landing in Pakistan's troubled northwest, killing a woman passenger and wounding two crew as the military battles Taleban insurgents in the region. -- PHOTO: AFP

PESHAWAR (AFP) - Gunmen opened fire on a passenger jet while it was landing in Pakistan's troubled northwest, killing a woman passenger and wounding two crew as the military battles Taleban insurgents in the region.

The Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight, landing in Peshawar from Riyadh in Saudi Arabia, came under fire late Tuesday as it descended with more than 170 passengers on board.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but attention turned to the Pakistani Taleban, who have promised a bloody response to the army's assault on their strongholds in North Waziristan.

Authorities said the Airbus A310 landed safely but a catastrophe was only narrowly avoided when it was hit by eight bullets from the unidentified attackers.

PIA spokesman Mashud Tajwar said the plane was between 200 and 300 feet (60 to 100 metres) feet off the ground when it was hit, contradicting an earlier altitude of 1,500 metres given by police.

"The shots were fired from outside the airport, one lady passenger and two stewards were wounded, the woman later died in the hospital," Mr Tajwar told AFP.

Mr Tajwar said the reason for the firing was not yet clear but the airline had not received any threats.

Muhammad Faisal, a senior police official in Peshawar, said eight AK-47 bullets hit the plane's tail section.

Police cordoned off an area outside the airport to search for the gunmen and paid tribute to the pilot's coolness.

"Credit goes to the aeroplane pilot that he managed to land safely," said senior police official Najeeb Ur Rehman.

The airport was briefly closed after the incident and the Emirates airline cancelled its Wednesday flight from Dubai to Peshawar.

The attack came two weeks after a bloody raid on the international airport in the southern port city of Karachi that doomed a largely fruitless peace process with the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

Hours before the latest incident, militants staged the first suicide bombing in North Waziristan since the military launched its major operation against the Taliban. Three people were killed in the attack.

The military said it had killed 47 fighters in the tribal northwest in its most recent air strikes - part of the assault which began on June 15.

The armed forces have used jet fighters, tanks and artillery to kill more than 300 people they have described as militants, although the number and identity of the victims are impossible to verify.

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