Deaths, hostages as Pakistan mosques attacked - UPDATED

Gunmen attacked two mosques of the northeastern Pakistani city of Lahore, taking hostages and killing at least 70 people, officials said.

Deaths, hostages as Pakistan mosques attacked - UPDATED

Gunmen attacked two mosques of the northeastern Pakistani city of Lahore on Friday, taking hostages and killing at least 70 people, officials said.

The gunmen opened fire shortly after Friday prayers and threw what could have been grenades at two minority Ahmadi sect mosques in residential neighbourhoods in Pakistan's cultural capital.

Sajjad Bhutta, deputy commissioner of Lahore, said at least 70 people had been killed in the twin attacks on mosques in Garhi Shahu and Model Town. A total of 78 were injured.

The death toll at Garhi Shahu was higher, Bhutta said, because three attackers blew themselves up with suicide vests packed with explosives when police tried to enter the building.

Police are still searching the area as two attackers were still at large.

Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif said one attacker had been arrested. Police in Model Town confirmed one gunmen had been arrested and another killed.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

"The prayer leader was giving a sermon when we heard firing and blasts. Everybody stood up and then two gunmen barged into the mosque and sprayed bullets," Fateh Sharif, a 19-year-old student, told Reuters from Model Town.

Bhutta said a suicide vest packed with explosives was recovered from the Model Town mosque, where some attackers escaped. One fired at a television van before the area was made safe.

"He was young, clean-shaven. He sprayed bullets at our van while fleeing the scene," Rabia Mehmood, a reporter for Express Television, told Reuters.

Witnesses said the assaults were launched shortly after prayers.

"I saw some gunmen run towards the Ahmadis' place of worship and then I heard blasts and gunfire," Mohammad Nawaz, a resident, told Reuters.

Ahmadis, a minority sect founded in the late 19th century, call themselves Muslims but does not believe that Prophet Muhammad was the final prophet.


Agencies

Last Mod: 29 Mayıs 2010, 16:41
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