A squad of terrorists launched a brazen assault on the Pakistani Army’s General Headquarters, sparking an hour-long battle in the military garrison city of Rawalpindi. Pakistani troops repelled the assault; six soldiers and four terrorists were killed during the fighting.
The attack began as six terrorists wearing Army uniforms drove a white van up to the front gate of the headquarters but were stopped by the guards at the main checkpoint. The terrorists opened fire on the guards and threw hand grenades. The soldiers at the checkpoint killed four terrorists during the battle while losing six of their own. A brigadier general and a lieutenant colonel are among those killed.
The attack was confirmed by Major General Athar Abbas, the chief spokesman for the Pakistani military.
“All the four terrorists have been killed,” Abbas told Geo News. “The fighting is over now. The situation is under control,” Abbas said. But the battle is still ongoing.
Two of terrorists were first reported to have been captured during the fighting but the report was incorrect. The two fighters retreated to a nearby military office, which has been surrounded. The two terrorists may have been joined by additional fighters, and are said to be holding an estimated 10 to 15 hostages, including security officials and civil servants.
The identity of the attackers is not yet known, but both the Taliban and the Lashkar-e-Taiba have conducted military-styled assaults in Pakistan’s major cities. The Taliban took credit for similar attacks in Islamabad, Peshawar, and Lahore. The Taliban have assaulted police stations and training centers in Lahore and Islamabad, ambushed the Sri Lankan cricket team in Lahore, and assaulted the Continental Hotel in Peshawar.
Today’s attack is the third major strike in Pakistan this week. On Oct. 5, a suicide bomber killed five UN workers in an attack at the World Food Program office in Islamabad. On Oct. 9, a suicide bomber killed 49 civilians in an attack at a bazaar in Peshawar.
The attacks are taking place as the government is threatening to launch an operation against the Taliban in Waziristan. But the military is only planning to take on the Taliban led by Hakeemullah and Waliur Rehman Mehsud. The Haqqani Network, Hafiz Gul Bahadar, and Mullah Nazir’s forces are not going to be targeted.
Today’s attack is not the first to take place outside the Army General Headquarters. On Nov. 23, 2007, two suicide bombers struck a post outside the military general headquarters and a bus carrying personnel working for the Inter Services Intelligence agency. Fifteen were killed and scores wounded in the November 2007 bombings.
Terror assaults on military targets in Pakistan’s major cities in 2009:
October 10, 2009
Four soldiers were killed after a terrorist assault squad attempted to storm the Army General Headquarters in Rawalpindi.
June 11, 2009
Hakeemullah Mehsud, the cousin of Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud, and a group called the Abdullah Azzam Brigade both claimed responsibility for the deadly attack that killed 17 people and destroyed a large section of the hotel.
May 27, 2009
Twenty-three people, including police and officials from the Inter-Service Intelligence agency, were killed after an assault team opened fire on security personnel and stormed the ISI headquarters. During the attack, a truck laden with explosives was detonated in front of the police headquarters, leveling the building.
March 30, 2009
The Taliban killed 34 police and recruits during a terrorist assault and eight-hour siege on a police training facility in the eastern city of Lahore.
March 3, 2009
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.