70 killed in terror assault on Lahore mosques

The Punjabi Taliban have taken credit for storming two mosques in Lahore and murdering more than 70 Pakistanis who belonged to a sect of Islam banned by the Pakistani government.

Two squads of heavily armed Taliban fighters entered two mosques in the provincial capital of Punjab during Friday prayers and opened fire and hurled grenades at worshipers of the Ahmadi sect of Islam. The Ahmadis are banned from calling themselves Muslims by the Pakistani government, and the group is widely discriminated against in the country.

While the death tolls have yet to be confirmed, credible reports put the number at over 70 civilians killed and 78 more wounded. Police stormed one of the mosques, and three of the terrorists reportedly detonated their vests. One other terrorist was captured, and the hunt is on for other members of the group, who are said to have fled the scene after holding the survivors hostage and battling with police.

Police have claimed that the men appeared to be Pashtuns from South Waziristan. Several of the attackers are said to have been sporting “long beards” and carried backpacks filled with ammunition and explosives. One of the Taliban fighters who fled after the attack was described by a witness as “young” and “clean-shaven.”

The Movement of the Taliban in Punjab contacted Geo News and said it carried out the attack. The Punjabi Taliban includes members and factions of the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, and Harakat-ul-Jihad-al-Islami. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in particular is well known for carrying out sectarian terror attacks against minority Shia, Ahmadis, and Christians in Pakistan.

Over the past few years, the Taliban have shown no reservations about striking inside mosques and other religious sites [see list below]. There have been 21 major attacks in mosques and other Islamic institutions in Pakistan since December 2007, according to information compiled by The Long War Journal.

The most brazen attack took place on Dec. 4, 2009, when a suicide assault team stormed a mosque frequented by military officers in Rawalpindi. Two senior generals were among the 40 people killed.

Today’s terror attacks in Lahore are the first in the eastern city since mid-March. On March 8, a suicide bomber rammed his car packed with explosives into a Federal Investigation Agency building, killing 11 people. Four days later, on March 12, a pair of suicide bombers attacked Pakistani Army vehicles at a bazaar in a military cantonment in the city, killing more than 50 people.

Major attacks at mosques, religious events, and Islamic institutions in Pakistan since December 2007:

May 28, 2010: The Punjabi Taliban assaulted two Ahamadi mosques in Lahore, killing more than 70 people.

Dec. 18, 2009: A suicide bomber detonated inside a mosque frequented by policemen in Lower Dir, killing 12.

Dec. 4, 2009: A suicide assault team stormed a mosque in Rawalpindi that is frequented by Army officers, killing 40.

Oct. 20, 2009: A pair of suicide bombers detonated their vests at Islamabad’s International Islamic University, killing five.

June 12, 2009: A suicide bomber killed five Pakistanis, including anti-Taliban cleric Dr. Sarfraz Naeemi, in an attack on a mosque in Lahore during Friday prayers.

June 12, 2009: A suicide bomber killed six worshipers and wounded more than 90 in an attack inside a mosque in Nowshera. The attack collapsed the dome of the mosque.

June 5, 2009: A suicide bomber killed 49 worshipers in an attack on a mosque in a remote village in Dir.

April 5, 2009: A suicide bomber killed 24 worshipers and wounded more than 100 in an attack outside a Shia religious center in the Chakwal district in Punjab province.

March 27, 2009: A Taliban suicide bomber killed more than 70 worshipers and wounded more than 125 in an attack at a mosque in the Khyber tribal agency.

March 5, 2009: An attacker threw a hand grenade into the middle of a mosque in Dera Ismail Khan, wounding 25 worshipers.

March 2, 2009: A suicide bomber killed six people during an attack at a gathering in a mosque in the Pishin district in Baluchistan.

Feb. 20, 2008: A suicide bomber killed 32 Pakistanis and wounded more than 85 in an attack on a funeral procession for a Shia elder who was murdered in Dera Ismail Khan.

Feb. 5, 2009: A suicide attack outside a mosque killed more than 30 Shia worshipers and wounded more than 50.

Nov. 22, 2008: A bombing at a mosque in Hangu killed five civilians and wounded seven.

Nov. 21, 2008: A suicide attack on a funeral procession in Dera Ismail Khan killed 10 mourners and wounded more than 25.

Sept. 10, 2008: The Taliban attacked a mosque filled with Ramadan worshipers in the district of Dir in northwestern Pakistan. More than 25 worshipers were killed and more than 50 were wounded.

Aug. 19, 2008: A suicide bomber killed 29 Shia mourners and wounded 35 after detonating in the emergency ward of a hospital.

June 17, 2008: Four Pakistanis were killed and three wounded in a bombing at a Shia mosque in Dera Ismail Khan.

May 19, 2008: Four Pakistanis were killed in a bombing outside a mosque in Bajaur.

Jan. 17, 2008: A suicide bomber killed 10 and wounded 25 in an attack on a Shia mosque in Peshawar.

Dec. 28, 2007: A suicide bomber detonated in the middle of a mosque in Charsadda in an attempt to kill former Interior Minister Aftab Sherpao as he conducted Eid prayers. More than 50 were killed and more than 200 were wounded.

Sources for the report on May 28 attack in Lahore:

The New York Times: Sectarian attacks hit two Pakistani mosques

Geo News: Lahore attacks leave at least 70 dead

Reuters: Gunmen kill at least 70 in Pakistan mosque attacks

Al Jazeera: Many dead in Pakistan mosques raid

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.



  • C. Jordan says:

    Murders! Plane and simple.

  • Tayyab Nazir says:

    “Over the past few years, the Taliban have shown no reservations about striking inside mosques and other religious sites”
    Attacking places of worship has been a trademark of sectarian groups such as lashkar-e-jhanghavi which now makeup most of punjabi taliban. Throughout the 90’s there were numerous attacks on places of worships of sects of islam considered infidels by these groups. Attacks by taliban on sunni sect mosques in recent times is a new phenomenon though.

  • Neo says:

    I doubt the Ahmadi sect will get much sympathy from most Pakistani’s.

  • kp says:

    For those that don’t see connections go back to the Hamid Mir phone tape comments. The Ahmadis are the “Qanndani’s” they’re talking about. There are a few links there for background. The Sunni extremists hate the Ahmadis even more than non-Muslims and the other “apostates” like Shia.

  • Husain says:

    Apart from one the two-faced Pakistani Mullas didnt even condemn this ghastly act. SOBs

  • Ahmadiyyat Zindabad says:

    The only peaceful sect in Islam is Ahmadiyyat, and they are the ones being attacked. Great article, wonderfully written. Videos on the after effect need to be posted to that people like neo will be more considerate and respectful towards this sect.

  • Varun says:

    I have the simplest, most cost-effective solution.
    For every terrorist attack that kills 1-10 people the U.S. gives the Indian Army a new battle tank.
    For every terrorist attack that kills 10-50 people the U.S. gives the Indian Army a new fighter jet.
    For every terrorist attack that kills 50-100 people the U.S. and Indian Armies go on joint training for all the Western Command’s Strike Corps.
    For every terrorist attack that kills a foreign national the Indian government is given assistance in expanding its nuclear weapons program.
    And the next terrorist attack on US soil traced back to Pakistan gives the Indian Army express permission to enter Pakistan in any way it deems appropriate.
    I guarantee for the cost of a few jets, a few tanks and a few training exercises Pakistan will get its act together in no time.

  • John Abraham says:

    Looks like Ahmadis are to Islam what Mormons are to Christianity.
    But we do not kill Mormons or make laws that make the practice of their religion illegal.
    Apparently the phrase ‘last prophet’ proved the difference between life and death for those 80 people.
    Such a small difference but the effect is enormous.

  • Tayyab Nazir says:

    “Looks like Ahmadis are to Islam what Mormons are to Christianity.
    But we do not kill Mormons or make laws that make the practice of their religion illegal.”
    Though only insane will do such acts of cowardice but such simplistic views by the west on complex issues in the region complicate the matters even further rather than resolving them.
    Islam is and has been very sensitive about the issue of prophet muhammad. Countless people have been killed in 1400 years who had claimed to be prophets after mohammad. Ahmedis themselves are considered by mainstream muslims a product of british colonialism who provided them sanctuary and money and ahmedi literature is full of praise of british for this. It is very improbable that such a sect can originate let alone exist in a muslim dominated country which considers the existance of a prophet after mohammad. Ironically the decision by govt, of pakistan to declare them as non muslims had spared them the fate accorded to shias by sunni extremism. Ahmedis are rarely targeted by extremists as compared to shias which are a regular target.

  • BraddS says:

    Varun, that sounds like an excellent plan! Too bad our leaders won’t listen, because it sounds like it actually would work!

  • kp says:

    Ahmadiyyat Zindabad

    I think you misread Neo’s comment. I think what he says is a factual position (“I doubt the Ahmadi sect will get much sympathy from most Pakistani’s.”) especially given the 1974 Pakistani constitution which defines the Ahmadi’s as not Muslim. They were persecuted immediatly after this change and that persecurion has continued. Though I suspect Neo personally would send his sympathy to all those killed and injured in these terrorist attacks. Hopefully this opens the eyes of other Muslims to the real goals of the Whabbists.

    And not to make this a competition but the Sufi’s these days are pretty peaceable (though one mustn’t forget the Mad Mhadi and the like in Sudan who were Sufi and there seems to be at least one Sufi fighter in the Horn of Africa).

    I like John Abraham’s comparison of the Ahmadi to the Mormons. But the Mormons did come in for a lot of hostility from the other Christians of their time (that’s why the ended up in Utah).

  • kp says:

    Back to that last post I see Bill posted a link to this Sufi malita that’s fighting against AS in Somalia. Perhaps it’s time for the Ahmedi’s to start to arm (though that’s a bit more difficult in urban Pakistan).

  • John Abraham says:

    The comparison is that both Mormons and Ahmadis added an extra prophet at the end of the list inviting hostility from their respective religions.
    Now even during the peak of hostility Mormons were not mass murdered as happened on Friday in Pakistan.
    Neither is practice of Mormonism severely restricted by law as is the case with Ahmadis in Pakistan. Legally, Mormons can proselytize just like any other religion.
    US government and justice departments routinely hand the extremist organizations (KKK etc) severe economic penalties which drive these organizations to ground before they gain traction.
    The lack of any sympathy from government or people of Pakistan puts Ahmadis quite a different situation compared to Mormons.
    I do not represent the West.
    The West includes countless different opinions, even on religion, thus we flourish. We will/can not become such monolithic faith morons of the part of the world in discussion.
    Now, would you clarify your own position on these attacks. It looks like you agree with the attackers on theological basis even if you appear to condemn the attacks.
    Why do you guys need to hang so severely on the “finality” clause? Is it worth so much innocent blood?.
    Would you see these brothers and sisters of yours as humans first and stop killing on minor/irrelevant details.
    If people say they need this religion to find a purpose (whatever that means) it is understandable. It helps your faith to relax a bit on the finality condition which may bring some reform to the faith which is much needed.
    Otherwise, the clash of civilizations, as Huntington predicted, may be inevitable with handful of sects from this faith switching sides.
    We can start whole another discussion on morality of Mohammad in the first place, so relaxing minor details might not be so damning to the religion.
    Coming to the “British” comment of your conspiracy theory: Pakistan minus British reform minus local culture(southasian) = Saudi Arabia.
    For our Af-Pak theatre this would work well if Pakistan was like Saudi Arabia but without oil resources.
    We will be fighting stone age people in that case, which could be much easier.
    British did a lot of good to South Asia despite all plundering: they did not put local cultures to extinction that happened during the Caliphate onslaught?
    Remember the Jewish and Christian cultures of middle east before Islam are now almost completely extinct. Same is the case with Persian local culture. Also look at the current replacement of south Sudanese with Arab culture, shamefully the West has turned a blind eye to.
    What happened to the Egyptian culture that flourished before Islam, the culture that built Pyramids?

  • Charley says:

    Some are blaming Hamid Mir for this. Recall he was bad mouthing Khalid Khawaja as an Ahmedi (also called Qadiyani) in his interview posted here two weeks ago.

  • Charu says:

    There are wheels upon wheels to this tragedy. Ahmadis are indeed a peaceful sect who, despite being virulently rejected by Muslims, serve the global Muslim cause through the money that they (a wealthy community) raise. Their educated and superficially reasonable leaders also provide the cover for the more virulent policies of the Muslim ummah; which they so desperately want to be a part of despite the rejection. Ahmadis agree with all the issues that matter to the Muslim community at large; Palestine, destruction of Israel, Kashmir, Muslim supremacy over kaffirs, etc.


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