Deadly attacks leave a Taliban trail

Mosque carnage: It rained bullets as gunmen went berserk during Friday prayers

Deadly attacks leave a Taliban trail

Pakistani police commandos take position outside one of the two mosques stormed by gunmen in Lahore on Friday. “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, said from Model Town.

“They had long beards. They were carrying rucksacks.”

Bhutta said a suicide vest laden 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.

Young and lethal

“He was young, clean-shaven. He sprayed bullets at our van while fleeing the scene,” Rabia Mehmood, said a reporter for Express Television. 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,” said Mohammad Nawaz, a resident.

As gunfire rattled around him, Munawar Shahid, an official of the sect, known as the Ahmadi community, said by cellphone that he was hiding in a corner of his office, which is adjacent to the mosque near the rail station.

“Everybody is trying to save their life,”Shahid said.

One worshipper said he saw five or six armed attackers enter the mosque just as he was approaching.

“They were firing directly at the mosque gate and then they entered the place,” said the worshipper, Nasrullah Baloch. “They also threw hand grenades.”

Commandos make way for a colleague carrying an injured, bloodied worshipper at one of the mosques. Ahmadis are a minority Muslim sect founded in the late 19th century. They hold unorthodox beliefs among Muslims, including that Jesus Christ survived the crucifixion and died in Kashmir. Some also believe that prophets have come after Mohammad, the founder of Islam, but that he retains his primacy.

Pakistan is the only Muslim state to have declared Ahmadis non-Muslims. Its 4 million-odd members have seen their religious rights in overwhelmingly Muslim Pakistan curtailed by law.

Separately, security forces battled Taliban militants in the Orakzai region near the Afghan border in the northwest and about 40 militants were killed and 30 wounded in attacks by government aircraft in three places, a paramilitary force officer said.

There was no independent confirmation of the toll. Militants often dispute government accounts.

Government forces have stepped up attacks in Orakzai in recent weeks after winding up offensives in several other areas.

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