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Pakistan

At least 80 dead as gunmen storm two Lahore mosques

Reuters

Gunmen wearing suicide vests stormed two Pakistani mosques belonging to a minority sect in Lahore, killing at least 80 people after Friday prayers. Police have apprehended one of the attackers.

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Both mosques – one in Model Town and the other in Garhi Shahu – belong to the Muslim Ahmadi sect, which has tens of thousands of members, and which Pakistan
has declared non-Muslim.

Pakistan's leading rights group said the community had been receiving threats in Lahore for more than a year.

“Terrorists have attacked mosques. They are firing and using grenades. They have taken people inside the mosque hostage,” district civil defence official Muzhar Ahmed told AFP news agency from the scene in Garhi Shahu.

“My team told me that some people died and some people were injured, but I have no exact number.”

Doctor Rizwan Nasir, head of the rescue services in Lahore, said 108 people were wounded as police continued to search for any remaining attackers.

The attacks sparked more than two hours of gun battles with police and commandos, as bursts of heavy gunfire rocked the neighbourhoods and rescue services raced through the streets to tend to the victims.

As the gunfire lessened in Garhi Shahu, officials spoke of scenes of carnage as they entered the mosque to tend to the victims.

Local television channel Geo TV is reporting that Tehreik e Taliban, the Pakistan wing of the Taliban militant group, have said they are carrying out the attacks.

It is not the first time followers of Ahmadiya have faced persecution and violence in Pakistan, notably by radical Sunni Muslims.

In October 2005, eight people were shot dead and 14 wounded when masked gunmen stormed an Ahmadi mosque in Mandi Bahauddin town, 100 kilometres south of Islamabad.

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