A Terrorist Attack in Lahore
by Charles Lemos, Mon Mar 30, 2009 at 12:37:27 AM EDT
In a brazen attack this morning in Lahore, Pakistan's cultural capital and second largest city, at least a dozen and as many as 20 unidentified militants stormed the Manawan Police training center. From the Dawn of Pakistan:
Terrorists used machine guns and grenades to launch a savage attack on a police training academy in Manawan, leaving at least 11 policemen dead and over 90 wounded, Dawn News reported. Two militants have also been killed, Rangers personnel said.
`The number of killed is at least 11,' a police official outside the police training ground in Manawan said.
However, given the heavy amount of cross-fire as police attempted to flush out the remaining terrorist, the death count may end up being much higher.
`The number of casualties may be more' a police officer said.
The incident took place between 7 and 8 am on Monday morning, as trainees were participating in a morning parade. Eyewitness accounts estimate some 10 militants carried out the attack, and at least 11 explosions have been heard so far. According to reports, some of the attackers entered the academy wearing police uniforms.
About a dozen gunmen have taken over 400 police trainees hostage.
A curfew has been imposed in the perimeter, as rangers and police moved in for an operation at the besieged Lahore police academy.
The police and special forces remain locked in pitched with the attackers who are hidden inside various buildings at the site, as emergency services are scrambling to evacuate the wounded to nearby hospitals.
According to the UK Guardian, about 850 cadets attended the training centre but they were unsure how many were inside at the time of the attack. Pakistani news sources report that the authorities are attempting to retake the training center. The latest reports suggested that security forces have begun to storm the compound amid a heavy exchange of gunfire.
Daniyal Hassan, a reporter for the Pakistani TV channel Dawn News, told Al Jazeera that the security forces were using armoured vehicles to try and evacuate people trapped inside.
The BBC's Jill McGivering is reporting that after hours of shooting a few hostages were seen coming out of the academy.
According to the BBC World Service report, helicopters were sweeping low over the compound, apparently trying to move the battle into a final, critical stage.
Earlier this month, there was a similar-style commando attack by gunmen on the visiting Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, which killed six of police guards with the gunmen escaping.
From Al Jazeera:
Imtiaz Gul, a Pakistani political analyst, said the attack underscored the "ill-preparedness" of police and paramilitary forces in the country.
"The kind of attack that took place is very, very difficult to pre-empt. There are people who came prepared to kill. On the other side, you see the kind of response from paramilitary forces.
"The entire country has been paying the price for this ill-preparedness," he said.
It is too early to know who was behind the attack but the lapses in Pakistani intelligence and security are all too evident.
Coverage on a Pakistani blog, All Things Pakistan with video and eye-witness accounts. This video, I think, pretty much underscores the extent of Pakistan's lack of preparedness.
Nor was this the only terrorist attack in Pakistan in the past 24 hours. Taliban militants abducted 12 police officers in a pre-dawn attack Sunday in a tribal region outside Peshawar. Officials are blaming Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan for this attack. The President noted on Friday that the Taliban and Al-Qaeda were "a cancer that risks killing Pakistan from within." To be frank, the problem is the 25,000 madrassas and the lack of alternative schools to train Pakistani minds. Again, solving Pakistan is a generational effort.