Lahore, May 28 (IANS) Taliban guerrillas wearing suicide vests fired indiscriminately and lobbed grenades as they stormed two mosques of the minority Ahmadi sect Friday, taking worshipers hostage and sparking gun battles with police that left at least 72 people dead before the attackers were neutralised, police and rescue workers said.
Ambulances and rescue vehicles rushed to the two mosques in the Garhi Shahu and Model Town areas to ferry the victims to hospital after the operation ended.
The distance between both the two mosques was 15 km and during the three-hour-long operation against the terrorists, Superintendent of Police (Civil Lines) Haider Ashraf was also injured, Online news agency reported.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Punjab claimed responsibility for the attacks, which occurred when some 1,500 worshipers were in the two mosques for the Friday prayers.
Heavy gunfire was interspersed with deafening blasts when the terror attack took place.
Television footage showed gunmen firing indiscriminately from the rooftop of one of the mosques. Gunfire could be heard as people ran to take cover outside the mosque.
Eyewitnesses at the Model Town mosque said that six to seven armed men entered the building and hurled hand grenades at worshipers offering the zikar remembrance prayer. They later opened indiscriminate fire, killing and injuring many.
The terrorists also exploded a vehicle packed with explosives, killing three police personnel and critically injuring some others.
According to a police officer, among the gunmen involved in the Model Town attack, ‘one terrorist is dead, one injured and one has been held’.
Seventeen dead bodies were shifted from the Model Town mosque to Jinnah Hospital, where 20 of the injured were also taken.
Suicide bombers had struck at a market in Lahore March 12, killing 45 and injuring over 100.
On Oct 15, 2009, the Taliban laid siege to Lahore with audacious and simultaneous attacks on three police establishments, including a training school just 12 km from the Indian border, that killed 25 people, including 10 of the attackers.
This was the second attack on the training school in 2009 after a March 30 assault that left eight attackers, an equal number of trainees and two civilians dead.
On March 3, 2009, five policemen were killed when gunmen attacked the bus ferrying the Sri Lankan cricket team to the Gaddafi Stadium for the Test against Pakistan. Four members of the Sri Lankan team were injured and the tour was immediately called off.