Five militant attacks in quick succession rocked Pakistan on Thursday with Lahore bearing the brunt. The wave of violence left 39 people dead.
Four of the attacks targeted law enforcement facilities — in Lahore and Kohat, a town in North West Frontier Province — while the fifth target was a colony for government officers in Peshawar in the northwest.
<b1>The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the Lahore strikes, which coincided with Pakistani warplanes bombing their suspected hideouts and some civilian areas in south Waziristan, killing 17 militants and some civilians.
A new element in the attacks, officials said, was the manner in which they were planned to occur within a short time of each other and the possible involvement of women attackers.
In epicentre Lahore, the violence began after 9 am when gunmen attacked a building housing the Federal Investigation Agency — the target of a suicide bomb in March 2008 that killed 24. Thursday’s attack left two attackers, four employees and a bystander dead.
Soon after, a second group of gunmen struck a police training school in Manawan, in the outskirts. Nine officers and four militants were killed.
A third team struck a police commando training centre. A constable and a civilian were killed. Corps Commander Lt Gen Shafqat Ahmad said five attackers were killed and a family being held hostage freed. An official said three of the 13 terrorists involved were women.
"The enemy has started a guerrilla war," interior minister Rehman Malik said. "The whole nation should be united against these handful of terrorists, and God willing we will defeat them."
The violence halted all activity in Lahore. Government offices were shut, roads deserted and markets did not open.
In Kohat, a suicide bomber ploughed his car through the wall of a police station, killing 10 people. The dead included children.
And in Peshawar - where a suicide bombing had killed 49 on October 9 - another suicide bomber killed two.
The Taliban have claimed credit for a wave of attacks that began with the October 5 strike on the UN food agency in Islamabad and included a siege of the army headquarters in Rawalpindi.
The Pakistani army has given no time frame for its expected offensive in south Waziristan but has reportedly sent 28,000 men and blockaded the area.
On Thursday, as Pakistani warplanes bombed south Waziristan, eyewitnesses said a bomb killed nine of a family, the Dawn News reported.
Security officials said the father of local Taliban leader Noor Wali Mehsud was killed.