03/30/2009, 00.00
PAKISTAN
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Pakistani Church condemns attack in Lahore

by Qaiser Felix
The security forces have regained control of the police academy. The updated victim tally is 40 dead and 90 injured. Peter Jacob, secretary of Justice and Peace, calls for "national unity in the fight against terrorism." Government sources say it was an attack by jihadists who use the collaboration of "elements coming from abroad."

Lahore (AsiaNews) - Pakistan's security forces have regained control of the police academy of Lahore, attacked this morning by a jihadist commando group. Television images have shown a group of policemen on the roof of the building pumping their fists and waving strips of cloth in a sign of victory. Meanwhile, the Catholic Church of Pakistan is condemning in no uncertain terms: Peter Jacob, executive secretary of the National Commission for Justice and Peace, calls it a "very sad" action, and explains that "the question related to extremism in the country has not yet been confronted in an adequate manner."

In the first light of dawn a commando group opened fire on the Manawan Police Training Center, the police academy in the suburb of Lahore, capital of Punjab. The latest reports say there are 40 dead and 90 injured, but the number of victims is destined to rise over the next few hours.

"The government," Peter Jacob tells AsiaNews, "is trying to do its best, but further reforms are necessary to improve law and order in the country." The activist emphasizes the importance of a policy that "focuses attention on the question related to extremism," which requires "tougher responses." At the moment, there are still "gaps in the security system," and there is a clear "lack of adequate training," elements that favor continued attacks. "The entire nation must be united in the fight aimed at uprooting extremism."

In the meantime, the authorities have imposed a curfew on the area. The security forces have launched an offensive against the terrorists, who are barricaded in the training center, and the people are being asked to remain in their homes.

The Pakistani Rangers and the police of Punjab have stormed the building, beginning evacuation operations. No one has claimed responsibility for the attack, but the government is accusing the "extremist militias of jihad," who are using the collaboration of "combatants from abroad." Rehman Malik, an adviser in the Interior Ministry, explains that the attack was conducted by "elements that want to destabilize the country."

According to a survivor, the commando group was made up of at least 15 or 20 terrorists. "We were attacked with bombs," says Mohammad Asif, one of the officers injured in the attack. "Thick smoke surrounded us. We all ran in panic in different directions." He adds that the attackers were "young and bearded."

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