Pakistani police and Rangers have defeated a terrorist assault on a police training facility in the eastern city of Lahore after an eight-hour siege. Upwards of 34 police recruits and others have been reported killed and more than 90 have been wounded, some seriously, during the fighting. The attack is the latest in a series of military-styled terrorist assaults on civilian and government installations and targets in Pakistan, India, and Afghanistan.
A terrorist assault team, estimated in size at 14 men, launched a coordinated attack on the Manawan Police Training School in what appears to be an effort to cause as many casualties as possible. The school had more than 750 trainees on campus, plus scores of police officers and support staff.
The attackers were well armed with assault rifles, hand grenades, and rocket-propelled grenades. Reports also indicate they carried packs loaded with ammunition and other supplies. Some of the attackers were dressed in police uniforms, while others wore civilian clothes.
The assault team entered the compound after killing the security guards at the back entrance of the police academy. The team then fanned out into the compound and prepared to strike at the parade grounds, where recruits had gathered for morning exercises.
The terrorist assault team appeared to have been well trained, according to accounts from survivors. One police recruit said the attackers lobbed grenades from three sides of the parade grounds, then entered the parade grounds and opened fire on the survivors. The attackers then moved into a building and took more than 35 recruits and officers hostage.
Pakistani police cordoned the police academy and prepared for an assault to dislodge the terrorists. Commandos from the Punjab Police as well as the paramilitary Pakistan Rangers, backed by Army helicopters, launched an attack on the compound. The military had the televisions shut down the live video feeds for a period to prevent potential handlers on the outside from providing intelligence on the operation, as was done in last year’s attack in Mumbai, India.
The terrorists repelled an attack by an armored personnel carrier that entered the compound, but were overwhelmed after commandos air-assaulted the academy and began to clear the buildings.
Pakistani security officials claim the assault team consisted of 14 men.
Police captured six of the attackers, according to reports. One of the men reportedly was carrying an Afghan passport, but one of the surviving police officers said the attacker spoke with a Punjabi accent. Eight of the attackers were killed during the fighting. Two of those killed detonated suicide vests, according to Pakistani police.
Officials also put the death toll figures lower than those reported in the Pakistani media. Major General Athar Abbas, the military’s top spokesman, said eight policemen were killed in the assault. Athar Khan, the spokesman for the Punjabi police, claimed three civilians were also killed.
Lahore Police Academy attack is the latest in a series of military-styled terror assaults
Today’s attack is the latest in a series of military-styled terror assaults that have been launched by the Taliban, al Qaeda, the Lashkar-e-Taiba, and other allied terror groups. These groups have conducted similar strikes in India, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen. The Lashkar-e-Taiba is the likely culprit in today’s attack, and it may have conducted the strike with elements of the Jaish-e-Mohammed as it did in the December 2001 assault on the Indian Parliament in New Delhi.
The last such attack took place in Lahore on March 3. A terrorist strike team estimated at about 12 men ambushed the Sri Lankan cricket team as it traveled to a sports stadium in Lahore. Five policemen and two civilians were killed, and dozens were wounded, including some cricket officials.
In February, an assault team assembled by the al Qaeda and Taliban-linked Haqqani Network attacked the Justice and Education ministries as well as the Prisons Directorate headquarters in Kabul, Afghanistan. Afghan security forces killed the attackers after several hours of fighting, which largely took place at the Justice Ministry. Nineteen people were killed and more than 50 were wounded.
In November 2008 a terror assault team attacked Mumbai, the financial capital of India. The well-armed, well-trained assault squad from the Lashkar-e-Taiba closed down the city for more than 60 hours before Indian forces killed all but one of the terrorists. More than 170 Indians and foreigners were killed during the battles, and hundreds more were wounded.
The Taliban, al Qaeda, the Haqqani Network, Lashkar-e-Taiba, Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, Harakat-ul-Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, and a host of Pakistani jihadi terror groups have joined forces to battle both the Pakistani military in the Northwest Frontier Province and the NATO and Afghan forces in Afghanistan. Al Qaeda has revived its paramilitary army, formerly known as the 055 Brigade and now known as the Lashkar al Zil, or Shadow Army. The Shadow Army contains fighters from each of these terror groups, and trains in camps in the Northwest Frontier Province and the tribal areas.
Lahore attack follows a bloody week in Pakistan
The Taliban, al Qaeda, and allied terror groups have stepped up their attacks on Pakistani security forces nationwide, despite a peace agreement that ceded more than 1/3 of the Northwest Frontier Province to the Taliban.
The assault on the Lahore police academy caps a bloody week of fighting and attacks throughout Pakistan, and was not the only deadly attack against security forces today.
Today in Bannu a suicide car bomber rammed into a military convoy, killing four soldiers and wounding several others. The suicide attack marks the ninth this month and puts the Taliban on pace to exceed last year’s total of 61 suicide attacks.
Yesterday, a Taliban unit surrounded a police outpost in Khyber and took 12 policemen hostage. On March 28, Pakistani security forces claimed they killed 26 Taliban fighters during an operation in Mohmand, a region they claimed was secured and Taliban-free just four weeks ago.
On March 28, a large Taliban force attacked a trucking terminal outside Peshawar and destroyed NATO vehicles and equipment.
On March 27, the Taliban temporarily shut down NATO’s supply route into Afghanistan after destroying a bridge in Khyber. That same day, a suicide bomber killed more than 70 Pakistanis after detonating in the middle of a mosque.
In the past, al Qaeda leaders Osama bin Laden and Ayman al Zawahiri and spokesman and ideologue Abu Yahya al Libi have advocated for Pakistanis to revolt against the state and overthrow the government. The al Qaeda leaders have urged the military to turn on the government and join the jihad.
Information in this report was compiled from reports at AFP, The Times of India, Geo News, and the Associate Press