Nine policemen were killed and eight others injured in an early morning terrorist attack on a hostel rented by the National Prison Academy in Lahore on Thursday. The incident is the second attack on security personnel in the country following the reopening of the Nato supply routes to Afghanistan.
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has reportedly claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attack, which is reminiscent of the storming of the Manawan police training academy in Lahore in 2009.
According to eyewitnesses, six to eight armed men stormed the small house being used as a hostel in Ichra with automatic weapons and hand-grenades. They say not a single guard had been deployed for the hostel’s security, allowing the assailants to escape unhindered.
The injured policemen were shifted to the Services Hospital. The hospital’s Additional Medical Superintendent Dr Muzaffar told The Express Tribune that they received 10 injured men, out of whom two succumbed to their injuries. He added one remains in critical condition and has been admitted to the Intensive Care Unit while the rest are now stable.
One survivor told reporters that the policemen jumped frantically onto neighbouring rooftops to escape the gunfire. “About 15 of us were sleeping on the roof and some were offering prayers when gunfire started downstairs. Some of my colleagues who went down to see what was happening were killed or wounded,” said Mohammad Rizwan Shah, 23, who works for Peshawar Central Jail.
A total of 32 policemen from Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa (K-P) had been staying at the hostel for six weeks, according to Iqbal Town SP Imtiaz Sarwar. The policemen were in Lahore for a two-month training programme for jail wardens at the National Prison Academy.
The hostel’s cook, Muhammad Shafiq, told The Express Tribune that there were 31 trainee wardens present at the time of the attack. The attack continued for around 10 minutes, he added. Shafiq says locals reached the scene immediately after the attack and helped rescue the injured and remove the deceased from the premises.
Soon after the incident, a certain Muhammad Akhtar, owner of a nearby bakery, called Rescue 15. Akhtar says he heard a small blast, followed by gunfire. An FIR has been lodged against the gunmen on the complaint of Drill Instructor Muhammad Yousaf.
Punjab police Inspector General (IG) Habibur Rehman, along with Lahore CCPO Aslam Tareen, arrived at the scene following the incident as well.
Talking to the media, the IG said initial reports suggested around 10 men had been involved in the attack. He added that the men, armed with Kalashnikovs and hand-grenades, arrived at the spot on three motorcycles and a car. He termed the attack similar to the ones at Gujrat (which claimed the lives of eight army personnel) and Babu Sabu (where two policemen were killed), going so far as claiming that those involved in the incident were part of the same group involved in the Gujrat attack.
Meanwhile, an eight-member committee, headed by Lahore CCPO Aslam Tareen, has been formed to probe the attack. TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told AFP in a telephone call that the attack was carried out because the officers being trained “are used in operations against us”. (WITH ADDITIONAL INPUT FROM AFP)
Published in The Express Tribune, July 13th, 2012.
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