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Pakistani Police Reclaim Training Compound After Deadly Attack 


Pakistan says its security forces have overpowered a group of armed militants who had stormed a police training school in eastern city of Lahore, taking several hostages. Officials say one of the attackers was captured alive while others either blew themselves up or were killed by the security forces.

Eyewitnesses say the regular morning drill was underway at the police parade ground when an unknown number of gunmen armed with automatic weapons and hand grenades stormed the training facility. The assailants, they say, threw several grenades before opening fire at the officers, killing eight people.

Television footage of the facility's parade ground showed several bodies lying motionless.

The militants occupied portions of the multi-story building and took a number of people hostage. Pakistani security forces immediately took up positions around the training school and the two sides exchanged fire for several hours, during which explosions and gunfire could be heard coming from inside the compound.

One wounded policeman described how the attackers struck.

He says one man, wearing civilian clothes, was carrying three guns and was shooting at everyone. He says the man chase him and others into a nearby building, but - instead of pursuing them - the gunman began shooting recruits still sleeping in their beds.

The long siege ended when Pakistani commandos forced their way in to retake control of the building. Giving details of the operation, the country's top security chief, Rehman Malik, said that security forces suffered no casualties during the operation and captured one of the terrorists alive. He says all the casualties happened when the gunmen initially attacked the police school.

"According to the information available, 95 policemen have been injured. Three terrorists with suicide jackets blew themselves up. A number of hand grenades and sophisticated arms have also been recovered," said Malik.

Malik says that investigators are trying to determine the identity of the attackers but suspect they could be linked to pro-al-Qaida groups. He says the number of such organizations in Pakistan has grown to such an extent that the government is finding it difficult to keep track of them.

Monday's siege in Lahore comes less than a month after some 12 gunmen attacked Sri Lanka's cricket team in the same city, killing several policemen and wounding seven members of the visiting team. All of the gunmen involved in that terrorist attack remain at large.

Lahore is the provincial capital of Pakistan's populous province of Punjab. The region has been spared much of the violence found in western parts of the country, in recent years. But several high-profile attacks have taken place in the province, including last year's bombing at the Naval War College.

Several large Islamic seminaries, known as maddrassas, with links to militant groups are located in the Pakistani province.

Responding to criticism of the police force's inability to prevent such terrorist attacks, Malik says Pakistan has never trained security forces to fight terrorists. That is why, he says, the federal government has decided to add 25,000 police personnel to each of the country's four provinces.


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