March 30, 2009

Another Attack in Punjab

Remember, this is not the FATA or the Swat Valley:

MANAWAN, Pakistan — Elite police forces overwhelmed more than a dozen gunmen eight hours after they stormed a police training school Monday, ending a siege in which at least 27 policemen were killed and more than 90 people were wounded near Lahore.

After a day of confused explosions and gunfire as security forces battled to retake control of the building, rescue workers began evacuating the wounded in ambulances.

Fahim Jahan Zeb, an official with the Punjab rescue service, said at least four attackers were arrested and four others had blown themselves up.

Television footage showed Pakistani security forces on the roof of the building. Black-clad commandos shouted in jubilation and fired into the air from the roof of the three-story structure.

Announcing the end of the operation to retake the school, the senior official at the Pakistani Ministry of Interior, Rehman Malik, said the attack was designed to destabilize Pakistan and illustrated how far "our enemies" had penetrated the country.

It was the second brazen terrorist attack this year in the tense Pakistani province of Punjab. In early March, a dozen gunmen in Lahore opened fire on a bus carrying the Sri Lankan cricket team and its police escort, killing six police officers and a driver. That assault in the center of the busy provincial capital, a city of nine million people, led to the suspension of international cricket tours to Pakistan, a severe psychological blow.

The police academy appeared to have been chosen carefully as well -- the gunmen struck a security institution while hundreds of young recruits were on the parade ground.