12 Die In Bloody Siege at Pak Police Academy - Six Militants Captured After 8-Hour Battle
Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Pakistan security forces yesterday overpowered gunmen who stormed a police academy in a spectacular commando-style raid in which eight police recruits and four attackers died.

Hundreds of policemen fanned out across the rooftop of the main building and around the camp near the eastern city of Lahore, cheering and firing into the air in joy after the nearly eight-hour siege, in which dozens were wounded.

Interior ministry chief Rehman Malik said four "terrorists" were killed. At least three bearded men surrendered to a small group of commandos on the rooftop at the end of the deadly attack. 

Police said three of the dead attackers blew themselves up using suicide vests. Rescue workers found bloodied limbs and an AFP reporter saw part of a blown-apart severed head embedded in the outer wall of the compound.

President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani praised the security forces for "successfully" taking control of the besieged centre and rescuing hundreds of police personnel who were trapped inside.

British Foreign Secretary David Miliband condemned the siege as "yet another reminder of the threat that Pakistan faces from violent extremism".

"It is a threat that the international community must help Pakistan to tackle, in the interests both of Pakistan's people and of wider stability," he said in a statement.

The attack smashed out the windows of the three-storey main building, where the walls were ripped apart by bullet holes and stained in blood, and the ground strewn with body parts, said an AFP reporter.

"It is a planned, organised, terrorist attack. This shows the extent to which the enemies of our country can go," Malik said.

The raid echoed the brazen March 3 assault in the same area on Sri Lanka's cricket team, underscoring the scale of the militant unrest that US President Barack Obama has called a "cancer" that risks killing Pakistan.

Armed with grenades and guns, the attackers shot their way into the camp, not far from the border with arch-rival India, in what one wounded survivor called an attempt to kill as many people as possible.

Officials said the assailants were masked and some were in police uniform, with others in civilian clothes and carrying sports bags.

"I've never heard such a firing in my life. We were some 18-20 boys. We literally crawled into a place to hide," recruit Fazal Fareed told AFP.

"I heard them hurling grenades and the deafening sound of window panes cracking. We were trapped in the building until the operation was concluded, and army and police forces pulled us out from the building," he said.

Military spokesman Major General Athar Abbas said: "Eight police trainees were confirmed killed in the academy."

The interior ministry's Malik said 95 policemen were wounded, in addition to two civilians.

"Three terrorists blew themselves up, one suicide jacket and a number of hand grenades and sophisticated arms were recovered," he added.

It was not clear how a fourth attacker died.

Malik suggested home-grown terror movements were to blame.

He said, "Some foreign hands may be involved."

"Terrorists are coming from FATA (Federally Administered Tribal Areas). They get help from across the border. Where do they get weapons and new vehicles?" he said, adding that one of those arrested is an Afghan.

The attack on the Sri Lankan cricket team also involved multiple gunmen armed with grenades and assault rifles.

Eight Pakistanis were killed and seven Sri Lankan squad members were injured but their assailants walked away.

Officials said it also bore the hallmarks of the November 2008 siege in India's financial capital Mumbai, blamed on Pakistani militants, which killed 165 people.

Indian officials condemned yesterday's attack, saying it threatened security across the region and its military was on alert for any "spill over."

Obama has put Pakistan at the heart of the fight against Al-Qaeda, tripling US aid to the nuclear-armed nation in a new strategy that commits billions of dollars and thousands more troops to the war in neighbouring Afghanistan.

News Source: AP

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