Pakistan militant attacks on key law enforcement facilities in two cities killed at least 15 people, escalating violence as the army prepares for a possible ground assault against Taliban fighters close to the Afghan border.
Seven people were killed in three simultaneous attacks on police buildings in the eastern city of Lahore by as many as 30 militants, Rana Sanaullah, a minister and spokesman for the Punjab provincial government, said by telephone from Lahore. Policemen and civilians are among the dead, he said. In the northwestern city of Kohat, a bombing killed eight people, including four police, the Edhi ambulance service said, Bloomberg reports.
Nuclear-armed Pakistan, which borders Afghanistan and is a key ally in the US-led "war on terror" has seen Taliban and Al-Qaeda linked attacks kill 2,250 people in more than two years and 137 people in the last 11 days.
Two of the police buildings in Lahore were attacked previously -- a training academy that was assaulted in a commando-style raid that took security forces eight hours to bring under control last March and a second bombed in 2008.
"All three were terrorist attacks... Seven people were killed. Four were police officials. Details about three other fatalities are being collected," Punjab provincial law minister Rana Sanaullah Khan told Geo television.
Around five people attacked the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) building, 10-15 gunmen stormed the police commando academy in Bedian and 10 militants attacked a police school in Manawan, both on the outskirts of Lahore.
"Different group of attackers have attacked and tried to enter two police training centres in Lahore. We now have three near-simultaneous attacks against police facilities," police official Kamran Ahmad told AFP.
Attackers armed with weapons and suicide jackets attacked the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) headquarters in the city centre and two police training centres on the outskirts just after 9am this morning.
Police said two of the attacks were over but one, at the Elite Police Training School, was continuing, with reports of explosions and intermittent gunfire. Helicopters hovered overhead as authorities deployed paramilitary forces across Punjab province, according to Guardian.co.uk