Terrorists storm Lahore police academy, kill more than 30


Pakistani security officials prepare to assault the Lahore police academy after terrorists stormed the compound. The body of a police recruit can be seen in the background. AP photo.

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.

Police detain one of the attackers.

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



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READER COMMENTS: "Terrorists storm Lahore police academy, kill more than 30"

Posted by Ayamo at March 30, 2009 11:14 AM ET:

It is frightening how well coordinated and planned these attacks are!
The message of the Taliban is clear: We can hit wherever and whenever we want.

Posted by Marlin at March 30, 2009 1:14 PM ET:

The Pakistani government begins to point their finger.

Interior Minister Malik said fighters loyal to Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud were suspected of carrying out the attack. He also said one of the suspects was an Afghan.

Reuters: Gunmen attack police academy in Lahore, kill 8

Posted by Minnor at March 30, 2009 1:26 PM ET:

Police is easily underequipped. There needs fortification against grenades in every police station. Not long be swat a haven, sooner the exams over for girl students - govt should start offensive.

Posted by KaneKaizer at March 30, 2009 2:34 PM ET:

They seem to be lowering the body count to about eight. I don't even see how it's possible given the amount of time the terrorists were in control of the academy. This morning the first number I saw was 50+ killed.

Posted by John at March 30, 2009 2:43 PM ET:

It is amazing to me that the PakMil still think of India as their existential threat. The threat to the current political and cultural elites within Pakistan are in Pakistan. The Army must grow some cojones and hit these murderers where they live. They should quit thinking of them as useful agents of influence in Afghanistan and Kashmir, or as a lesser issue to be "managed" on the cheap, and see them for what they are - a cancer eating away at Jinnah's vision of Pakistan. We are witnessing the slow motion disintegration of a fascinating country...it's like watching a species (liberal democracy in a Muslim country) go extinct.

Posted by Bill Roggio at March 30, 2009 3:00 PM ET:

I've seen a photo where six policemen are clearly dead. It was a small view of the 'battlefield'. KK, I'm with you. But its not like the Pakistanis haven't fudged death tolls before.

Posted by KaneKaizer at March 30, 2009 3:28 PM ET:

That's true, they're almost as bad as the Taliban when it comes to death tolls. The Pakistani Military and police are trying to protect their image, afterall, they're the ones expected to fend off such attacks as these.

I wonder if the Taliban or LeT or whoever claims responsibility will claim hundreds or so killed.

It's amazing how these swarm attacks require so few men on the part of the terrorists, similar to 19 hijackers killing 3,000 Americans on 9/11 although I'm not drawing any other comparisons. I would have imagined something more like those mass assaults the Taliban would stage against NATO in Afghanistan, only in more urban environments.

Posted by IK at March 30, 2009 4:48 PM ET:

Obliviously, the Pakistanis need to stop this senseless bloodshed, and withdraw from all police academies, letting the Taliban control them. They promise to be nice in the future! Also, they want the nice young men who were arrested released, or at least be allowed to stop at McDonalds and have a meal without any police around them. This way, everyone can go back to glaring at the real enemy - India.

Posted by M K Tayal at March 30, 2009 6:01 PM ET:

There is more to the bloody madness in Lahore or Peshawar than what is seen and shown to the world.
If security agencies and feeds of intelligence agencies via the media reports are to be believed then the attacks have been launched by the Taliban (Haqqani Network), al Qaeda, Lashkar-e-Taiba  Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, Harkat-ul-Mujahideen, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, Harkat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami, and a host of Pakistani jihadi terror groups that have joined forces.
Who are they? Where to do they get their money from? Who are the real people behind this industry called terrorism?
The ISI says it is a good spy organization and is trying to show that it is not behind the guns these guys carry. Then could it be the CIA. The CIA may be interested in getting more action and could be likely interested in fiddling with the state called Pakistan. But they say that RAW also has a good network in Pakistan (which anyone who knows the cops in India would doubt) and could be involved. Frankly, most of the people serving in RAW or IB or any police organization have a lot to think about their homes and career rather than what is happening in Pakistan or the US or Mumbai. They are more concerned what is happening in the headquarters top floors.
But this is a bad sign for Pakistan. Eventually, the nation will face a lot of problems like the ones we are seeing in Iraq or Afghanistan. Pakistan may go the USSR way. The future for Pakistan is not very bright and the world needs to stand up and take a serious note of the happenings in the region.

Posted by Neo at March 30, 2009 8:40 PM ET:

M K Tayal

Try again please!

I's not the CIA or India that is funding the Taliban. The sources of funding for the militants in Pakistan aren't mysterious at all. They have been in place in Pakistan since the Mojahadeen took on the Soviet invasion. I'm not talking about the CIA either. I'm talking about the same people that fund radical madrasas in Pakistan and across the Islamic world and have funded multiple large wars. Much of it comes from gulf donors. For the Taliban other sources are fair game such as money from the opium trade, smuggling, and criminal enterprises. Unfortunately, some of the money does indirectly come from the United States. The Taliban has been extorting shipping companies supplying NATO through the Kyber pass for years. For decades there has been an extensive funding network loosely associated with the Muslim Brotherhood.

It isn't just Pakistani's who think the CIA or Indian intelligence services fund wars against their own people.

Posted by Midnight at March 30, 2009 9:17 PM ET:

Checking it all out what could they possibly be saying?
How many times does this have to happen before we figure out whats up?
Right now I'm willing to bet that it has to do with ground, ground that the CIA and others are supposed to stay behind.
I believe the river was the boundary in Pakistan and they took the ground anyway.
Somehow it is always a political depate, or nuclear debate not a debate about the rules.
To me the answer to peace is still about democracy.
Over or for anything else is ridiculous, unbelieveable.
Please try to focus people, Shariah law is not the end of you all, nuclear war is still considered political suicide.
How many times must we go thru the same mess only to see that they only want what they should have. Thats all they take.
Everytime this happens I feel compelled to say, it's only their right. It's not about murder or terror.
Right now, I stay at home busy, with whatever it it is that I do all day long only to come back to the same arguement making headlines. Lovely.

Posted by Marlin at March 30, 2009 9:44 PM ET:

The old tried and true method. Create a new group to take credit for the attack to make it harder to pin the blame on the real perpetrators.

Late on Monday, a Taliban operative who identified himself as Omar Farooq told The Associated Press by telephone that a little-known group called Fedayeen al-Islam was behind the attack and that he was speaking on their behalf.

"As long as the Pakistani troops do not leave Tribal Areas, these attacks will continue," he said.

Daily Times: Lahore braves terror

More details about the detained terrorist are now becoming available.

The terrorist attack on the Police Training Centre in Manawan on Monday was planned in South Waziristan [...] The arrested attacker belonged to the Paktika province of Afghanistan, Malik said, and preliminary interrogation revealed he is linked to Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud. He could only speak Pashto and was living in a rented house in Lahore, Malik said.

Daily Times: Attack was planned in South Waziristan: Malik

Posted by Marlin at March 30, 2009 10:01 PM ET:

Interestingly, the Pashtun was not arrested on the grounds of the Manawan Police Training Centre.

An Afghan attacker was arrested from outside the premises during the operation.

Daily Times: How it happened

Given that the Training Center sits in a densely populated area, one wonders how they came to know he was associated with the attack. Did the neighborhood residents turn him over to the security forces because he was obviously not from the area while others who were Punjabis and did not stand out so much escaped?

One of the attackers was arrested, another was able to flee after being hit by a bullet and three blew themselves up to avoid arrest, Punjab Police Inspector General Khawaja Khalid Farooq said. He believed other attackers might have fled unhurt in the densely populated neighbourhood.

Daily Times: Lahore braves terror

There is a close-up picture of the apprehended Pashtun in the 'Lahore braves terror' article. From the expression in his eyes, it seems to me he recognizes the mess he now finds himself in.

Posted by Martyn Carthy at March 30, 2009 10:39 PM ET:

Pakistan is like the man who ignores a Scorpion crawling up his boot because he can see a Tiger in the distance. The real and present threat of the Taliban is still very much secondary to the perceived one of India. I'm starting to give up hope that the Pakistani's will fianlly realise who their most dangerous enemies are right now. They're that blinded by hate that even today they'll still be convinced about the CIA/RAW/Mossad/MI5/America/Israel/India/Karzai axis behind this attack. It's always those outside foreigners behind Pakistan's problems. It couldn't possibly be....their fellow Pakistanis killing their security forces and blowing themselves up? No no no, India/America/The Martian's actions are obviously the real danger that they're going to protest about.

Posted by Patrick at April 1, 2009 2:05 AM ET:

With the greatest of respect due to the inestimably intelligent Mr. Roggio, I would humbly suggest that the word "despite" in the following article quote be replaced with the phrase "largely due to" -

"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." -

It's Madrid, Spain all over again.