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80 killed in terrorist attacks on two Pakistan mosques

Eighty people were killed and 70 injured in a coordinated attack by terrorists on two mosques of the minority Islamic sect, Ahmadis, in Lahore during Friday prayers.

Armed with grenades, the gunmen held people hostage in the mosques for nearly three hours in the afternoon before security personnel managed to take control of the besieged premises.

Donning suicide bomb jackets, the terrorists struck at the mosque in the pre-partition vintage upmarket Model Town locality and another in Garhi Shahu across the city within minutes of each other. While the former was cleared in about three hours, room-by-room search operations were on at the latter till evening and people were asked to remain indoors though the firing had stopped.

According to the District Coordination Officer of Lahore, Sajjad Ahmed Bhutta, three suicide bombers detonated themselves inside the Garhi Shahu mosque as security personnel closed in. One suspected terrorist was reportedly caught alive by the police.

The Interior Minister later indicated that the Tehreek-e-Pakistan (the Taliban wing in the country) and organisations like the Lashkar-e-Jhanvi and Jaishe-e-Mohammad could be involved in the attacks.

The Minister also said the federal government had information about a possible terrorist strike in Lahore and had alerted the Punjab government accordingly twice this month

Eye-witnesses said the terrorists lobbed grenades as they entered the mosques and began shooting indiscriminately. Once the worshippers were held hostage and police reached the mosques, there was a steady exchange of fire as the two areas were cordoned off and the media kept at bay.

Before the area was cordoned off, some television channels got footage of terrorists firing at policemen from the minarets of the mosque in Garhi Shahu. Though the Ahmadi sect in Pakistan has been declared by law as a non-Muslim community, and are barred from calling their places of worship mosques and propagating their faith, a large congregation of the faithful had gathered at the mosques when they were attacked.

Secretary-general of the Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HRCP) I.A. Rehman said the Model Town mosque had received threats over the past year.

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Printable version | Oct 23, 2020 3:09:37 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/80-killed-in-terrorist-attacks-on-two-Pakistan-mosques/article16304219.ece

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