WSJ with the first detailed report (http://online.wsj.com/article/SB125557894653686797.html
ISLAMABAD -- Pakistan erupted in a wave of insurgent violence Thursday morning when gunmen attacked three security agency buildings in the eastern city of Lahore, killing at least three and taking hostages, and a suicide bomber killed at least six at a police station in the country's northwest
, according to officials.
In Lahore, at least three people were killed when about half a dozen gunmen attacked a building occupied by the Federal Investigation Agency
, Pakistan's equivalent to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which is involved in counter-terrorism investigations. Two of the dead were FIA officials
.At least five FIA officials are being held hostage. Pervez Rathore, the city's police chief said the attackers are wearing suicide-bomb vests. The FIA was targeted last year, too, when militants blew up a nine-story building where militants were being detained.
In a separate incident Thursday, gunmen fired at an elite police force training centre on Bedian Road in Lahore
. And there was a third attack on another police training centre in the Minawa district outside Lahore
. Police said gunmen in police uniform entered the compound where some 1,500 trainees were present. The attackers also hurled grenades. They are holding several trainees hostage
.In the suicide car bombing, police say the attacker rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into a police station in the Kohat district in northwest Pakistan
, killing six people. Some 20 people were wounded, according to the Associated Press.
Rehman Malik, the Federal interior minister, said Thursday's events represented a concerted attack by the militants. "They are targeting the security forces," he told reporters. He said the FIA building has now been cleared; the fate of the hostages wasn't immediately clear. Police said two militants had been killed.
Thursday's violence, severe and coordinated even by the deadly standards of recent insurgent attacks in Pakistan, comes as the military is preparing a ground offensive in South Waziristan, a tribal area believed by U.S. and Pakistani officials to be the stronghold of Pakistan's Taliban and al Qaeda. The Taliban has vowed to step up attacks in Pakistan unless the offensive is called off.
The attacks come just days after an audacious attack on the Pakistani military's headquarters in Rawalpindi outside Islamabad that left 20 people dead after a prolonged standoff between the militants and commandos.More than 120 people have died in attacks in the past week in Pakistan
. On Monday, a suicide car bombing aimed at Pakistani soldiers in the country's northwest killed at least 41 people, officials said, even as the country was still reeling from the Rawalpindi attack and attacks on a U.N. office in Islamabad, a crowded urban market and most recently a rural military patrol. The strikes follow a relatively quiet summer and underscore the threat still posed by Islamist militants, despite military efforts against them.
Lahore has become a popular target for Pakistan's insurgents as militant groups from the northwestern tribal regions increasingly coordinate attacks with groups based in Punjab province, which includes Lahore. In March, gunmen attacked the Sri Lankan cricket team during its visit to Lahore, killing six police officers. That attack, officials say, was masterminded by Mohammed Aqeel, also known as Dr. Usman, a member of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a banned Punjabi militant outfit with strong links to the main Pakistan Taliban's faction and al Qaeda. Mr. Aqeel also led the attack on the military headquarters in Rawalpindi, officials say, and was captured in the attack.
Also in March, gunmen armed with assault rifles and hand grenades stormed a police academy in Lahore, sparking a daylong battle with security forces that left at least 11 people dead before the assailants were overwhelmed by paramilitary troopers and police.