White House condemns Taliban attack on airport


The White House on Monday condemned an attack on Pakistan's main airport by Taliban militants, but refused to say whether the bloodshed shows peace talks there have failed.

More than two dozen people were killed in the assault on Jinnah International Airport in Karachi, which came as Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has been attempting to engage the country’s Taliban offshoot in peace talks.

"The United States condemns the attack on the Karachi airport. And our hearts go out to the families of the victims and those who were wounded in that attack," White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

But Earnest directed questions about responsibility to the government of Pakistan.

"And in terms of negotiations, that is a strategic decision that will have to be made by the government of Pakistan. And I don't have anything to say about it," Earnest added.

The five-hour attack has shaken confidence in Pakistan's government, and especially Sharif, who was elected last year after promising to negotiate an end to violence with Islamist extremists. The violence occurred just over a week after the White House negotiated a prisoner exchange with the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan to free Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, who had been held captive for five years.

Some critics of the White House have said the administration endangered American lives by freeing five Taliban militants held at Guantánamo Bay in exchange for Bergdahl.