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Death toll rises from Karachi airport siege

Militants attacked one of Pakistan’s biggest airports on Sunday and killed at least 24 people.

Smoke rises after militants launched an early morning assault at Jinnah International Airport in Karachi on 9 June, 2014. Picture: AFP.

KARACHI - The death toll from a six-hour siege in Pakistan busiest airport has now risen to 24.

Heavily armed militants launched the assault in Karachi late on Sunday night.

The attack on Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, Pakistan's sprawling commercial hub of 18 million people, took place as Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government tries to engage Pakistani militants in negotiations to end years of fighting.

Television pictures showed fire raging at the airport as ambulances ferried casualties away, but by dawn on Monday, the army said the airport had been secured.

Eyewitnesses described three loud blasts followed by scenes of chaos with clashes between militants and airport security.

Intelligence officials say it appears the militants had aimed to hijack a plane that passengers were boarding at the main terminal.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but Pakistani Taliban militants, who are separate from the Afghanistan Taliban, are battling to overthrow the Pakistani state and impose their own hardline concoction of Islamic rule.

Earlier, officials said all flights had been diverted.

Peace talks between the government and the Pakistani militants have failed in recent months, dampening hopes of reaching a negotiated settlement with the insurgency, which continues attacks against government and security targets.