Heavily armed terrorists dressed in police uniforms stormed a hospital in this Pakistan city late Monday to "rescue or kill" their comrade wounded in the attacks on two mosques last week. At least five people died in the attack, which revealed the lack of security at the facility, media reports on Tuesday said.
Dawn and The News said five people, including three policemen, died in the attack at the Jinnah Hospital, while the Edhi rescue service put the toll at eight. Javed Akram, the hospital's medical superintendent, said 12 people had died.
Some 10 Ahmadis and a terrorist identified as Moaz alias Amir Moavia, who were injured in the Friday attack on two mosques, were being treated in the hospital when Monday night's terror strike took place at around 11.45 pm.
Inspector General of Police Saleem Dogar told reporters at the hospital that the four attackers intended to "either rescue or kill" Moaz. Three police officers had died in the incident, he added. Two civilians, a man and a woman, were also killed while at least six people were injured.
"The most amazing part of the incident was that the attackers, who stayed in the building for over 90 minutes, managed to escape from the building which was completely cordoned off by police. Another embarrassing fact was that they reportedly escaped in a police personnel carrier," The News said.
"The attackers probably left the hospital when one of their accomplices was injured," the newspaper added.
The police gave hot chase to the attackers and intercepted them in the limits of the Hunjarwal police station. However, yet again to the police's embarrassment, the terrorists abandoned their vehicle and escaped.
Sporadic bursts of fire between the armed men and the police created panic among the patients, attendants, doctors and paramedics at the hospital.
"Chaos prevailed as people started running in different directions to save their lives. The attackers took positions at different points and started spraying bullets. Building inmates were puzzled as they were not able to distinguish between the attackers and police," The News said.
Doctors and attendants in offices and wards locked the doors from inside and refused to open them even after the arrival of the police. They said they would only open the doors when asked by a doctor known to to them.
An eyewitness Mohammad Yousaf, whose daughter Asiya was injured in firing, said that the attackers first fired shots in the hospital canteen, creating a stampede like situation. They then rushed inside the building and reached its first floor, where Moaz was being treated in the ICU. One of them came to the blood bank and started firing injuring many.
All the four attackers were bearded and were clad in white salwar kameez, another eyewitness, Ahmad, said.
Nawaz Haider, who works in hospital pharmacy, said the four reached the first floor and sprayed a volley of bullets at the policemen standing outside the ICU. Two of them then went to the fourth floor of the building where construction is underway, while the other two came to the ground floor, he added.
Heavy contingents of police and armoured vehicles were called in and they encircled the hospital building, restricting the entry of people to the hospital.
The news of the attack spread like wildfire in the city and hundreds of people rushed to the hospital to enquire about the safety of their relatives.
Women and children were the worst affected and were seen crying for help.
"The hospital administration further added insult to injury by closing the main gate of the hospital, upon which the panic-stricken people in the premises had to scale over the fence to go outside," The News said.
"The hospital administration further made the atmosphere more horrifying by switching off the lights of the entire hospital building," it added.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani strongly condemned the attack, saying: "Such inhuman acts of brutality could only be conducted by those who neither believe in humanity"nor any religion."