- The Washington Times - Monday, September 9, 2002

MULTAN, Pakistan (AP) Militants attacked a police van yesterday in an attempt to free imprisoned comrades, triggering a gunbattle that left four persons dead including the two prisoners who were accused in an October attack on a church.
The prisoners were leading police to a weapons cache after midnight yesterday when the police van was ambushed by three men in a white car. The incident happened near the village of Karore Pakka, in the eastern province of Punjab, said police Deputy Inspector General Chaudhry Iftikhar.
The two prisoners were killed in the hourlong shootout, as were two of the men who tried to free them. A hunt was under way for the third attacker.
Police said the militants, all in their early 20s, were believed to be followers of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, an outlawed Sunni Muslim group that has targeted Christians and minority Shi'ite Muslims.
The prisoners, Abdul Shiraz and Muhammad Wasim, were accused of attacking a Protestant congregation in the town of Bahawalpur in October.
Fifteen Christians and one Muslim guard were killed in that attack, which began when at least six gunmen burst into St. Dominic's Roman Catholic Church during services, spraying the congregation with gunfire. The Protestants had borrowed the Catholic church for their service.
Four other suspects in the Bahawalpur attack and two more militants were killed in almost identical circumstances six weeks ago.
Police have detained dozens of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi suspects in connection with a June 14 car bombing outside the U.S. Consulate in Karachi that killed 12 persons, and a May 8 suicide bombing outside the Sheraton Hotel in Karachi, which killed 11 French engineers and three other persons, including the bomber.


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