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Terror strikes cops in Lahore, 12 killed
Police academy attacked 7 km from Attari
Afzal Khan writes from Islamabad

Security forces secured control of a police academy near Lahore on Monday after eight hours of grueling dual with a group of terrorists that left at least 12 people dead and 50 injured.

One terrorist and a suspect were captured within the academy building while another Pushto speaking bearded man was held in suspicious circumstances outside the building close to a helipad where an army chopper was about to land, adviser on interior affairs Rehman Malik told reporters at the site of the terrorist attack.

Three terrorists blew themselves up during the operation involving the army, para-military rangers and police. The attackers believed to be eight to 10 in number barged into the Manawan Police Training Centre located close to Pakistan’s border along Grand Trunk Road (G.T. Road) linking Lahore to New Delhi.

About 900 unarmed trainees had just begun morning parade when the attackers entered the gates. They threw hand grenades and showered bullets as cadets ran for shelter in panic.

The authorities called out army and rangers for assistance while gunships also flew over the building where the attackers took a large number of trainees hostage. They exchanged heavy fire with security forces using heavy arms.

“They were highly trained, organised and equipped terrorists,” Malik said adding: “It was an attack on the sovereignty and solidarity of the country.” The attack came less than a month after an ambush on Sri Lanka’s visiting cricket team in the heart of Lahore and underscored the threat that militancy poses to the US-allied, nuclear-armed country.

It prompted the country’s top civilian security official to say that militant groups were ‘destabilizing the country’.

It was the first of time suicide attackers actually seized a state building and engaged in gun fighting with security forces. The forces shouted “Allah Akbar” (God is great), flashed victory signs and pumped bullets into the air, a traditional sign of celebration, nearly eight hours after attackers stormed the compound.

Malik said terrorists want to destabilise Pakistan. “This was a well-planned attack and we cannot link this with attack on Sri Lankan team”, he added.

Governor Salman Taseer said a high-level committee has been formed to probe the terror attack, which will present its reports within three days. Top Pakistani leaders including President Asif Zardari, Prime Minister Gilani and opposition leader Nawaz Sharif condemned the attack and urged people to united for eliminating terror.

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