Gunmen storm airport in Pakistan

Fire illuminates the sky above Karachi airport terminal where security forces are fighting with attackers Sunday night, June 8, 2014, in Pakistan. Gunmen disguised as police guards stormed an airport terminal used for VIPs and cargo in Pakistan's largest city Sunday night. Shakil Adil, AP

Last Updated Jun 8, 2014 8:45 PM EDT

KARACHI, Pakistan - Gunmen disguised as police guards attacked a terminal at Pakistan's busiest airport Sunday night with machine guns and a rocket launcher, killing at least 13 people as explosions echoed into the night, officials said.

Meanwhile, suicide bombers in southwestern Pakistan killed 23 Shiite pilgrims returning from Iran in a separate incident, underscoring how fragile security is Pakistan.

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.

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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.
Fareed Khan, AP

The airport attack raged for roughly five hours Monday morning in Karachi, a sprawling port city on Pakistan's southern coast, although officials said all the passengers had been evacuated. Heavy gunfire and multiple explosions could be heard coming from the terminal, used for VIP flights and cargo. 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 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.

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