Commandos take up position at one of two worship places stormed by gunmen in Lahore.—AFP
Fanatic Muslims target Lahore’s Ahmadi worshippers in Mosque on Friday; 80 dead, 100 injured.
Fri, 28 May, 2010 | Jumadi-us-Sani 13, 1431
The gunmen opened fire shortly after Friday prayers and threw what could have been grenades at two Ahmadi worship places in residential neighbourhoods in Pakistan’s cultural capital.
Sajjad Bhutta, deputy commissioner of Lahore, said at least 80 people had been killed in the twin attacks on worship places in Garhi Shahu and Model Town. A total of 100 were injured.
The death toll at Garhi Shahu was higher, Bhutta said, because three attackers blew themselves up with suicide vests packed with explosives when police tried to enter the building.
Police are still searching the area as two attackers were still at large.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani strongly condemned the attacks, expressing “deep sorrow and grief over the loss of precious lives”.
Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said the incidents would generate greater resolve to combat extremism.
“It’s a reminder to the nation that Pakistan will achieve its destiny only after we get rid of the worst type of extremism and fundamentalism,” he told a news conference. “The entire nation will fight this evil.”
He said one attacker had been arrested. Police in Model Town confirmed one gunmen had been arrested and another killed.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but suspicion quickly fell on the Pakistani Taliban.
“It’s too early to say who is behind these attacks,” said a Lahore-based security official. “But my guess is that like most other attacks, there would be some link to the Taliban or their associated militants.”
Punjab’s Law Minister Rana Sanaullah said the arrested attacker was a teenage Pashtun. This, he said, indicated a link to the tribal area of Waziristan and strongly hinted at a Taliban link.
“The prayer leader was giving a sermon when we heard firing and blasts. Everybody stood up and then two gunmen barged into the place of worship and sprayed bullets,” Fateh Sharif, a 19-year-old student, told Reuters from Model Town.
“They had long beards. They were carrying rucksacks.” Bhutta said a suicide vest laden with explosives was recovered from the Model Town worship place, where some attackers escaped. One fired at a television van before the area was made safe.
“He was young, clean-shaven. He sprayed bullets at our van while fleeing the scene,” Rabia Mehmood, a reporter told Reuters.
ATTACKS LAUNCHED AFTER PRAYERS
Witnesses said the assaults were launched shortly after prayers.
“I saw some gunmen run towards the Ahmadis’ place of worship and then I heard blasts and gunfire,” Mohammad Nawaz, a resident, told Reuters.
The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) said it had warned of threats against the Ahmadi community centre in Lahore for more than a year and demanded “foolproof security and protection” from the government.
It expressed concern over “the increasing sectarian dimension” of militancy in Pakistan, which it called “a big security threat to the entire society”.
Friday’s shootings were the worst attacks in Pakistan since March 12 suicide attacks seconds apart killed 57 people in Lahore while targeting the Pakistani military.
Nine attacks have now killed more than 220 people in Lahore over the past year, a historical city, playground for the elite and home to many top brass in Pakistan military and intelligence establishment.
The United States on Friday also condemned the deadly attack in Lahore. “We condemn this brutal violence against innocent people. We also condemn the targeting and violence against any religious group, in this case the Ahmadi community,” State Department spokesman Philip Crowley told reporters. —Agencies
Hindus, Christians or Ahamadis are not the factors. Minorities are being finished totally in Pakistan. The eye-washing statement made by US condemning the present attack on Ahmadis can not refrain US from enhancing the budget to prompt Pakistan against India or anybody coming under the classification of Kaffirs. Rather an authoritative support in America may help the fanatics to build a colosal Mosque near Ground-Zero. No Fatwa from Deoband or Al Harmain or from any place contained any meaning that Islamic Jihad is different from Terrorism. Islam is the Green Book of the Fanatic Jihadis. Islam is against Peace. Islam is inhuman. Simply Barbaric Terrorism. Declare Pakistan as a Barbaric State.