Peshawar airport reopened on PM’s directives

June 18th, 2009 - 10:27 pm ICT by IANS  

Taliban Islamabad, June 18 (IANS) Peshawar’s international airport that was temporarily shut Wednesday amid a rise in Taliban attacks in the northwestern city, was reopened on Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s orders, Defence Minister Ahmad Mukhtar said Thursday.
“Peshawar airport has been opened for flights in pursuance of the directives of the prime minister,” Mukhtar told Online news agency.

“Peshawar airport has been made fully operational with the approval of the prime minister. Directives had been issued to the Civil Aviation Authority to open the airport,” he added.

On Wednesday, an official said the airport had been temporarily shut due to technical reasons.

“Peshawar airport has been closed for the time being due to technical reasons and the flights are being diverted to Islamabad airport,” DPA quoted Pervez George, a spokesman of the Civil Aviation Authority, as saying in the southern city of Karachi.

Geroge refused to explain the nature of the “technical reasons” but a duty officer at Peshawar airport said the intelligence reports had indicated that Taliban militants could target the building.

“The airport is quite close to the area where Taliban have already carried out several attacks and the law enforcement agencies told us that they might be planning to target this place,” said the official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Peshawar, which is the capital of the North West Frontier Province (NWFP) and is located some 180 km northwest of Islamabad, has seen more than a dozen suicide and other militant attacks since the government launched a major offensive in NWFP’s Swat and two neighbouring districts.

A suicide bombing killed at least 18 people, including two foreign UN workers, at a five-star hotel in the city June 9.

Two days later, security forces repulsed a militant raid on the residence of a regional army commander in Peshawar, killing two rebels and arresting five after an hour-long shootout.

Peshawar is also home to one of the 10 major operational bases of the Pakistan Air Force.

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