LAHORE: Militants attacked two places packed with hundreds of worshippers from Ahmadi sect here on Friday, holding hostages and battling police, and left some 80 people dead and dozens wounded.
The assaults in Lahore were carried out by at least seven men, including three suicide bombers, officials said. Two attackers were captured. At one point, a gunman fired bullets from atop a minaret.
It was one of the first times militants have deployed gun and suicide squads and taken hostages in a coordinated attack on a religious minority in Pakistan.
The attacks Friday took place in the Model Town and Garhi Shahu neighborhoods of Lahore, Pakistan’s second-largest city and one of its politically and militarily most important.
The assault at Model Town was relatively brief, and involved four attackers spraying worshippers with bullets before exploding hand grenades, said Sajjad Bhutta, city’s deputy commissioner.
Several kilometers away at Garhi Shahu, the standoff lasted around four hours.
TV footage showed an attacker atop a minaret of the worship place at one point in the siege, firing an assault rifle and throwing hand grenades. Outside, police traded bullets with the gunmen.
Bhutta said at least three attackers held several people hostage inside the Garhi Shahu building. The three wore jackets filled with ammunition. “They fought the police for some time, but on seeing they were being defeated they exploded themselves,” he said.
Around 80 people were killed in the two attacks, while more than 80 were wounded, Bhutta said. A breakdown for each location was not immediately available.
Two attackers were caught, and one was being treated for wounds, Punjab province police chief Tariq Saleem Dogar said.