PAKISTAN

Extremists storm hospital in attempt to retrieve gang member

Gunmen disguised as police stormed a Lahore hospital on Tuesday morning, in an audacious attempt to reach an injured fellow gang member who was being treated there after the group launched a deadly attack on two mosques last Friday. One of our Observers in the city sent us CCTV footage of the hospital attack. Read more...

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Gunmen disguised as police stormed a Lahore hospital on Tuesday morning, in an audacious attempt to reach an injured fellow gang member who was being treated there after the group launched a deadly attack on two mosques last Friday. One of our Observers in the city sent us CCTV footage of the hospital attack.

The shootings in the two mosques last Friday were an attack on Ahmadi followers, a "deviant" sect which believes that the meaning of Islam has been lost over time. Over 80 people were killed, and dozens were injured, including one of the gunmen, "Moaz" or Amir Moavia. He was taken to Jinnah Hospital for treatment and placed under police supervision.

On Monday night gunmen from the same group broke into the hospital from the roof and attempted to either rescue or kill Moaz, in order to stop him from providing the police with information concerning their activities. The mission was ultimately unsuccessful, but in their attempt to reach their target the gunmen killed six people. The attackers, who the police say are part of the Pakistani Taliban and trained in Waziristan, escaped.

UPDATE: two men were arrested on Wednesday (2 June) in connection with the hospital attack.

“This attack – the first ever on a hospital – shows that their network is stronger than we thought”

Ajmal Shah Din is a journalist from Lahore. He sent us the CCTV footage, which was released to local media on Tuesday.

There are two levels of security in the hospital. The first one they managed to get past, by killing four policemen and two others. But they didn't manage to get past the second and reach their target. Although the police did not succeed in stopping them completely, the terrorists did not succeed in their mission.

As far as we know, Moaz [the affiliated member and target of the gunmen] is not a high-ranking terrorist in the group. Only a few of the top terrorists hold the information the police are really looking for. Moaz is probably one of those looked after by the ‘handlers' - the gang leaders who supply recruits with lodging and weapons. Nonetheless, they don't want him to give anything away.

The attack on the mosques on Friday is the first incident when a minority group, in this case the Ahmadi community, has been targeted. The terrorists usually target Shiite followers. So this attack could suggest that they are trying to get the attention of the international media by doing something new. Their usual attacks are no longer extraordinary. We hear about attacks on Shiites (and sometimes Sunnis) all the time, so they need a new angle.

Ahmadi, along with Shiites, are considered ‘Wajib-ul-Qatil' or ‘obligatory to be killed' by extremist Muslims such as these terrorists [Pakistan designated the Ahmadi sect as "non-Muslim" in 1974]. They had been issued with a warning that they must leave the country or face death just before the attacks.

The attack on Monday - the first ever on a hospital - shows that their network is stronger than we thought. The terrorists are well integrated in the city; they're not just coming from Waziristan or other terrorist pockets."

CCTV footage of the attack

Footage that shows the gunmen cannot be released. These images were taken at the entrance of the Lahore hospital around half an hour before midnight on Monday. At 00:13 a policeman is seen trying to take cover.

The day after the attack

Outside the hospital on Tuesday. Photos by Ajmal Shah Din.