Taliban besieges Lahore, strikes at three police establishments


Lahore : Five days after striking at the heart of the Pakistani military headquarter, the Taliban laid siege to this cultural capital of the country Thursday, staging simultaneous and “multi-directional” attacks at three police establishments that have killed at least seven people, police and eyewitnesses said.

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Armed men dressed in military uniform stormed the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA), the training centre of the Elite Force and the Manawan police training school that is just 12 km from the India-Pakistan border.

There was heavy exchange of fire in all three establishments. Loud blasts and gunshots could be heard, eyewitnesses said. Helicopters hovered above to keep a watch on the terror drama unfolding across the city.

Lahore Commissioner of Police Khusro Pervez told Dawn News that it was a “multi-directional attack”.

The outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) that had claimed responsibility for the audacious assault on the Pakistani General Headquarters (GHQ) in the garrison town of Rawalpindi Saturday, owned up Thursday’s attacks.

Pervez said seven people were killed in the attack on the FIA building and three people injured. These included two terrorists – a third was taken into custody, media reports said. The FIA, Pakistan’s federal law enforcement agency, is located close to a school.

An official of the Ganga Ram Hospital confirmed that seven dead bodies have been transferred to the facility.

“The FIA building has been cleared and search operations are being carried out in the surrounding areas,” Pervez said, adding that a suicide jacket had been recovered.

At the Elite Force headquarters at Bedian Road, 10 terrorists, including three women, barged into the premises, lobbing grenades and firing indiscriminately.

Police said the exchange of fire was still on and the complex had been encircled.

Six armed terrorists stormed into the Manawan academy, located five km from the Elite Force establishment, lobbing grenades and firing from automatic weapons.

According to Pervez, security forces were still searching for the terrorists. This was the second attack on the establishment this year after the March 30 assault that left 13 people dead.

The Lahore assaults are the latest in a string of terror attacks in Pakistan in the last 10 days.

On Thursday itself, at least eight people were killed and dozens injured when a bomber rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into the main gate of a police station located on a busy road in Kohat district of North West Frontier Province (MWFP).

On Saturday, terrorists had laid siege to the Pakistan Army GHQ, taking 42 officers and soldiers hostage. The two-day standoff ended with 19 people, including a brigadier and a lieutenant colonel, being killed.

The day before a suicide bomber detonated a car stuffed with explosives in a busy market of Peshawar, killing 53 people and injuring over 100.

On Oct 5, a suicide bomber blew himself up at the UN World Food Programme office in Islamabad, killing five people.

The Pakistani Army is known to be readying to strike against the Taliban in its south Waziristan stronghold along the Afghan border and the attacks could be in reaction to that.

The army had earlier cleared the Malakand division of the NWFP, which includes the picturesque Swat Valley of the Taliban.

Ironically, the Lahore attacks come a day after it was announced that Pakistani Army chief Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani had ordered that an advisory on tightening security be issued in the wake of the GHQ assault.