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Gunmen arrested following deadly attack on Pakistan police academy

Security forces have regained control of a police academy after an eight-hour-long gun battle with a group of militants in eastern Pakistan on Monday that left at least 12 people dead, officials said.

At least 12 people killed, more than 90 wounded

An injured Pakistani police officer watches his colleague rush to a building at a police training school on the outskirts of Lahore, Pakistan, on Monday. ((K.M. Chaudary/Associated Press))
Security forces have regained control of a police academy after an eight-hour-long gun battle with a group of militants in eastern Pakistan on Monday that left at least 12 people dead, officials said.

Four people have been arrested in the attack at the Manawan Police Training School on the outskirts of Lahore, said Interior Ministry chief Rehman Malik.

Three militants blew themselves up and three other unidentified bodies were recovered, officials said.

The attackers killed at least six police cadets before they were overpowered. Officials said more than 90 police were wounded.

Members of Pakistan's paramilitary force run to a police training school on the outskirts of Lahore, Pakistan, on Monday. ((K.M. Chaudary/Associated Press))
The gunmen, armed with rifles and hand grenades, attacked the academy early Monday in a gun battle that lasted for more than eight hours.

The attack, which occurred on the outskirts of Lahore, comes less than a month after the deadly armed ambush of Sri Lanka's visiting cricket team in the heart of the city.

Paramilitary troops rushed into the compound to help.

Gunmen took over the top floor of a building in the compound and held 35 people hostage, said provincial officials.

The scene was "a complete panic," said police officer Syed Ahmad Mobin.

About 700 trainee officers were inside the academy at the time of the attack and many were participating in morning drills on the parade ground.

Instructors and trainees at the facility tried to escape by crawling on their hands and knees around dead bodies. Other people attempted to jump over the exterior walls of the academy to flee the attack.

Armoured vehicles entered the compound while helicopters hovered overhead.

'We all ran in panic'

"We were attacked with bombs. Thick smoke surrounded us. We all ran in panic in different directions," said Mohammad Asif, a wounded officer taken to a hospital. He described the attackers as bearded and young.

Rescuers carry a Pakistani police officer wounded in a shootout at a police training school on the outskirts of Lahore, Pakistan, on Monday. ((K.M. Chaudary/Associated Press))
At least 40 people were taken to local medical facilities, said police official Ali Nawaz.

"It was like doomsday; it was every man to himself. Every boy was trying to race to safety," one young cadet with bandaged hands told reporters at a hospital.

Malik told reporters the ambush was an attack on Pakistan and named the Pakistani Taliban as suspects.

"There are two choices: to either let the Taliban take over your country or to fight it out. At this time the nation must unite and show its unity," Malik said.

Pakistan has endured scores of suicide bombings and other attacks in recent years, and it faces tremendous U.S. pressure to eradicate al-Qaeda and Taliban insurgents on its soil. Most of the violence occurs along the country's northwest border with Afghanistan, but cities in the east have not escaped, with Lahore seemingly an increasingly alluring target.

In early March, a group of gunmen ambushed the visiting cricket team in a crowded city traffic circle, sparking a battle that left six police officers and a driver dead and wounded several players.

It's unclear what group was behind the attack on the police academy, which had several features of the Sri Lankan attack including heavily armed, backpack-toting gunmen besieging a populated area — also hallmarks of last year's siege of the Indian city of Mumbai.

Malik suggested it could have been Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Punjab-based extremist group linked to al-Qaeda that has been blamed for several other attacks in the country, as well as the Mumbai assault.

Lashkar-e-Taiba has denied any links to either the Mumbai or cricket attacks.

Malik also said the plot may have originated with the Pakistani Taliban in the northwest, noting that one of the arrested attackers was Afghan.

Meanwhile, a Taliban member claiming to speak on behalf of a shadowy little-known group called the Fedayeen al-Islam said it was behind the attack.

With files from the Associated Press