Pakistan 'not prepared for attacks'

Minister admits security forces not up to scratch as country reels from latest attacks.

    Speaking to reporters, Malik said the government had stepped up efforts to strengthen the country's security forces, including importing Chinese-made scanners and bullet-proof jackets.

    He admitted however that it would be six months to a year before these were in place.

    War zone

    In depth

     

    Video: Security crisis in Pakistan

      Video: Pakistan army HQ attacked
      Profile: Pakistan Taliban
      Witness: Pakistan in crisis
      Riz Khan: The battle for the soul of Pakistan
      Gallery: Lahore under attack

    For several hours on Thursday Lahore resembled a war zone as security forces fought pitched battles with armed men for several hours.

    In the first attack four gunmen broke into a Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) building and opened fire. At least three security officials, two attackers and two civilians were killed in the gun battle that ensued.

    Elsewhere in Lahore, 10 to 15 gunmen raided the Manawan Police Academy on the outskirts of the city, resulting in the deaths of 11 police officers and four attackers.

    Three of the attackers blew themselves up, the police said.

    The same academy had come under attack earlier this year, in which 12 people died after an armed standoff.

    Also in Lahore more than 20 armed men also stormed the Pakistani Elite Force Headquarters, sparking a gun fight in which at least one policeman and five attackers were killed.

    Amjad Farooqi, representing a group often referred to as the Punjabi Taliban, claimed responsibility for the Lahore attacks.

    On the same day two other attacks occurred elsewhere in the country, including a suicide truck bombing on a police station in the northwestern town of Kohat which left 11 dead.

    Later in the day another explosion near a school in the city of Peshawar killed an 8-year-old girl and wounded five others.

    Wave of attacks

    Security forces have been dealt a heavy blow by the string of high profile attacks [AFP]
    Thursday's attacks were the latest in a recent wave of high profile strikes against the country's security forces - including an audacious attack on the army's headquarters in Rawalpindi earlier this week - amid the military's planned offensive against the Taliban heartland near Afghanistan.

    More than 100 people have been killed in suicide attacks in recent weeks, mostly claimed by the Taliban, and the assaults have underscored the fighters' ability to carry out sophisticated strikes at the heart of government forces.

    Imtiaz Gul, a political analyst in the Pakistani capital, Islamabad, told Al Jazeera: "It seems that [opposition fighters] are taking advantage of the lack of leadership in Islamabad at the moment.

    Spike in violence

     October 5: Suicide bomber hits UN World Food Programme office in Islamabad killing five employees.

    October 9: Suicide car bomb attack in northwestern city Peshawar kills 52 civilians.

    October 10/11: Group of 10 fighters attack army headquarters in Rawalpindi, near Islamabad, killing 23 people.

    October 12: Suicide bomber strikes a market in Shangla district, neighbouring the Swat valley, at least 45 civilians killed.

    October 15: Suicide bomb detonated near police station in Kohat and attack on security facilities in Lahore.

    "The president [Asif Ali Zardari] and prime minister [Syed Yousaf Raza Gillani] do not seem to be in sync with the Pakistani military which looks embattled at the moment. And which is looking up to the political leadership to lead and consult them.

    Ameen Jan, an analyst on Pakistan, told Al Jazeera: "The Taliban and insurgents are trying to send a very clear message: 'we're still here, we're still going to create hell for you and we are not going away anywhere soon.'"

    "This is an insurgency that is here to stay for some time and it will take all of the effort of the Pakistan military and the rest of the state apparatus, and will require the support of the Pakistani people to battle it for the months and years to come." 

    Also on Thursday, suspected US drone attack killed four people in North Waziristan, on the border with Afghanistan.

    Two missiles struck a house 3km north of Miranshah, the principal town of the region, intelligence officials said, adding that at least three of the dead were Afghan Taliban members.

    SOURCE: Al Jazeera and agencies


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