QUETTA, Pakistan (Reuters) - Gunmen stormed a remote airport in troubled southwestern Pakistan before dawn on Sunday, killing two engineers and destroying the facility’s radar system, authorities said.
No militant group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack on Jewani airport in Balochistan province, which is fighting separatist insurgents as well as various other militants.
The airport is in the province’s Gwadar district, home to a strategic port of the same name that is key to a planned $46 billion China-Pakistan economic corridor linking the port to China’s far-western Xinjiang district.
About a dozen armed men on motorcycles were involved in the attack, said provincial government spokesman Jan Muhammad Buledi.
“They entered the control room at about 3:30 a.m. and set it on fire,” said a senior police official in the province.
He said one man was killed, one wounded and a third engineer was abducted.
The body of the abducted engineer was later found in nearby mountains on Sunday afternoon, police said.
Flights have not been running to Jewani airport since Pakistan International Airlines, the state carrier, suspended service several years ago.
However, civil aviation workers continued to use airport’s radar and navigational systems to aid aircraft flying over the area.
An official with the Civil Aviation Authority said later on Sunday that back-up systems already in place meant there was no disruption to international air traffic.
Last year, Pakistani Taliban fighters staged a stunning attack on the international airport in Karachi, Pakistan’s largest city, killing 34 people in a five-hour battle before authorities killed the militants.
Writing by Kay Johnson; Editing by Clelia Oziel