Media outlets are reporting that a police training academy near Lahore was attacked by gunmen today, killing 8 and wounding many, although BBC News reported there has been “no official confirmation of the casualties.” GEO News reported, “According to sources, unknown attackers threw hand grenades at the Police Training School in Manawan after which exchange of firing began between the armed attackers and the police which still continues.” Dawn noted in its coverage that incident took place between 7 and 8 am Monday morning, [PST] when trainees were participating in their morning parade. The news agency cited eyewitnesses who estimated that “ten attackers carried out the attack, and at least eight explosions have been heard so far.” BBC added, “TV pictures apparently showed several police officers lying on the ground covered in blood.”
A police official told news agencies that elite troops have now been called to the scene. What’s really frightening is that gunmen can just walk into a training school and perpetrate such attacks. With Zardari just now lifting Governor rule in Punjab, will the vacuum of power lead to further chaos?
CHUP will continue to provide more information as further details come in.
UPDATE 1209 [EST]: GEO is reporting that the gunmen are firing kalashnikovs inside the training center, noting they walked into the academy and initiated the attack. A bomb blast was heard, which was followed by grenade launches. The firing that started after is still continuing. GEO is reporting 15 dead and 18 injured.
UPDATE 1215 [EST]: GEO is reporting that paramilitary forces [rangers] has now arrived on the scene. A security official told Reuters that 10 police officers had been killed and 50 people wounded.
UPDATE 715 [EST]: Media outlets report the police academy has been “retaken” by Pakistani security forces, although Dawn noted that official confirmations on the development have not yet been made. BBC News reported that television footage showed paramilitary troops celebrating on the roof of the compound. Dawn added, “Earlier, the Associated Press said four of the gunmen who attacked the academy in the Manawan area on Lahore’s outskirts were killed, while a fifth was in custody.” Government official Rao Iftikhar also stated earlier that about 11 of the gunmen remained holed up at the top floor of a building in the compound, and they were holding some 35 police hostage. The BBC reported that up to 40 people were killed, and 80 injured, “but the situation remains confused.”
UPDATE 735 [EST]: Bloomberg cited Punjab governor Salman Taseer, who stated, “We condemn the attack,” adding that the gunmen appear“well trained and equipped with automatic weapons and hand grenades.” [Other sources noted the gunmen were better trained than the police academy trainees!] Television reports cited witnesses who said the method of today’s raid was similar to the March 3 attack on a bus carrying Sri Lanka’s cricket team in Lahore.