Lahore hit by three Taliban attacks

The Taliban has stepped up its assault on Pakistan's security establishment with synchronised commando-style raids on three law enforcement agencies in the country's second-biggest city, Lahore.

In the fifth major terrorist attack in Pakistan in 10 days, heavily armed militants staged gun and bomb attacks at Lahore's Federal Investigation Agency building and at two police training centres yesterday.

The attackers, some wearing police uniforms, took hostages and detonated suicide jackets. There were reports of women among the attackers. At least one attacker was reported to be in custody last night.

The death toll from the raids was at least 39 last night, including 12 policemen, eight militants and two civilians. But there were fears that figure could rise.

''We found grenades and a suicide jacket near one dead person,'' a police spokesman said. ''Two dead bodies have been found near the front gate.

''The building has been cleared and the employees are safe.''

The attacks were the latest to underscore the growing threat to Punjab, the province next to India where the Taliban are believed to have made inroads and linked up with local insurgents.

Pakistan's President, Asif Ali Zardari, said the bloodshed that has engulfed the nation would not deter the Government from its mission to eliminate the violent extremists.

Meanwhile, in the town of Kohat in northern Pakistan, a suicide bomber rammed a car into a police station, killing 10.

Witnesses say civilians and police officers were among the dead.

The Pakistan Taliban claimed responsibility for the attacks, which created mayhem in Lahore.Pakistani commandos were deployed last night at an elite police training centre at Bedian on the outskirts of Lahore, where terrorists were holding hostages.

The police academy at Munawan on the outskirts of Lahore was hit for the second time in six months.

In March more than 30 recruits were killed and about 90 injured when terrorists attacked the academy and took hostages.

Seven were reported killed at the FIA headquarters including a senior inspector. In March last year, 21 people were killed in a suicide attack on the agency's Lahore headquarters.

Lahore has been on high alert after terrorist attacks in Islamabad, Peshawar and Rawalipindi in the past nine days.

Even so, Taliban militants were still able to carry out the sophisticated attacks, which bore similarities to the March attack on the Munawan police academy and a commando-style ambush on the Sri Lankan cricket team in the same month that killed six police.

The well-organised attacks come amid speculation that the Pakistan army will launch a major ground offensive against Taliban strongholds in South Waziristan, a lawless province ordering Afghanistan.

''The enemy has started a guerilla war,'' said Interior Minister Rehman Malik.

He also congratulated security forces on their response to the attacks in Lahore.

More than 100 people have been killed in terrorist attacks in Pakistan over the past 10 days. On Saturday, Taliban gunmen dressed in military uniforms attacked Pakistan's military headquarters in Rawalpindi and staged an 18-hour hostage siege.

Last Friday, a suicide car bomb in the north-western city of Peshawar killed 49 a few days after a suicide bomber blew himself up in the UN's World Food Program building, killing five humanitarian workers.


Post a Comment