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Terrorism & Security

Pakistani Army ends siege of police academy

The standoff against militants in Lahore lasted seven hours and left up to 20 dead.

By Jonathan Adams / March 30, 2009

A daily summary of global reports on security issues.

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Pakistani commandos were engaged in a fierce gunbattle at a police compound in Lahore Monday, after grenade-wielding militants attacked the station, killing at least 20, wounding scores, and holding hostage many more.

The police station raid Monday morning was the latest in a string of deadly attacks by militants, which have heightened concerns about the stability of this nuclear-armed Muslim nation. It also comes on the heels of President Obama's announcement last week of a new US counterterror strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. That plan includes more military and economic aid to push Pakistan to face down its own militants.

Media reported conflicting casualty numbers, and it was not clear who was behind today's attack. Dawn, an English-language Pakistani paper, citing police officials, said the attack began around 7:30 a.m., and that up to 20 gunmen were holding more than 400 hostages.

The Times of London reports that Pakistani Army and police forces overpowered the militants , ending a siege that lasted seven hours. The newspaper reports that 20 people were killed, and one of the attackers was taken into custody.

The New York Times described a scene of chaos as the Pakistani military attempted to regain control of the station on the outskirts of Lahore. (Click here to see map of the region from the US State Department.)

About 10 to 14 gunmen held several hundred cadets hostage as police and the attackers exchanged fire inside the center. Armored police vehicles carrying police and rangers drove into gates of the center after the attackers took control and explosions and bursts of heavy gunfire could be heard sporadically.
Scores of police vehicles and ambulances crowded around the high walls of the academy as police rushed to the compound.
The attackers were reportedly firing from the roof of the school and a police helicopter was hovering overhead. Police sharpshooters positioned at nearby buildings were firing into the compound.

The paper quoted an expert who said the attack appeared "well-planned."

"This took many weeks to plan, someone should have smelled this was going to happen," said Masood Sharif, the former chief of intelligence in Lahore.

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