Gunmen Storm Pakistan Police Academy

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Gunmen stormed a police academy near Lahore, Pakistan, on Monday. At least 11 officers were killed and dozens more wounded during morning drills. The assault bears a striking resemblance to other attacks — including one less than a month ago in Lahore in which the Sri Lankan cricket team was ambushed.


This is MORNING EDITION from NPR News. I'm Renee Montagne.


And I'm Steve Inskeep. In Pakistan this morning, a band of gunmen attacked a police training academy. The academy was in the city of Lahore. The standoff now appears to be over but at great cost, with reports of dozens of people dead and wounded. And this assault bears a striking resemblance to other recent attacks, including one last year in the Indian city of Mumbai. NPR's Anne Garrels is covering this story from Pakistan's capital, Islamabad. And Anne, when I say this there's a resemblance, what I mean is you have another situation here where gunmen seem to storm a building and they're willing to try to hold it under siege.

ANNE GARRELS: Absolutely. They went in dressed in police uniforms. They infiltrated the police academy early in the morning, just as about 700 cadets had gathered for a morning drill. They timed it for sort of maximum effect. The gun battles went on for hours, and it was only after - actually, more than seven hours that commandos finally overwhelmed the gunmen in a key building where they'd been holed up. We suddenly saw commandoes on the roof raising their arms in victory. They unleashed more gunfire into the air, but that time, it was in jubilation.

INSKEEP: And so does this mean that all the gunmen have been captured or killed?

GARRELS: Well, we still don't know that. The compound's very large. They're searching through the compound. At least one gunman has been captured alive, according to officials, and we still don't know, in fact, how many gunmen may have been involved.

INSKEEP: Now what do these attacks mean for the Pakistani government, which was already under a lot of pressure?

GARRELS: It just emphasizes the government's inability to deal with a growing internal threat. And it's not just the Taliban working along the Afghan border. Clearly, other militant groups are hitting urban areas. Commentary today has been highly critical of the government, with analysts, retired generals saying the military and the government - needs to look at Pakistan's longstanding support for militant groups, which the intelligence services used to fight India in Kashmir. But now, apparently, these same groups are turning their guns on the state. However, the government today, once again, looked outside Pakistan for the roots of the problem. The president's chief security adviser blamed foreign hands, code words meaning India.

You know, stopping the attacks, though, means figuring out and acknowledging who is doing this. Pakistan's authorities have promised a thorough investigation in the past. They promised that again today. But in the past, there have been few results to these investigations.

INSKEEP: They may be looking outside Pakistan for an enemy to blame, but the United States seem to be looking inside Pakistan, and looking for more from Pakistan's government.

GARRELS: And a lot of people here say, you know, it's time for Pakistan to realize that the problem isn't just from the outside, it's Pakistan's own problem, but that the government and the military have been slow to shift their thinking.

INSKEEP: NPR's Anne Garrels is in Islamabad. Anne, thanks very much.

GARRELS: Thank you.

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