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Nine Killed as Taliban Attack Police Compound

LAHORE, Pakistan - Taliban gunmen opened fire on a compound housing policemen in eastern Pakistan on Thursday, killing nine of them, officials said.

The police who were targeted in the city of Lahore were training to become prison guards, said Habibur Rehman, the chief of police in Punjab province, where Lahore is the capital.

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was revenge for the police torture of their fighters in prison. He spoke to The Associated Press by telephone from an undisclosed location.

The police who were attacked were recruited from northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, a one-time base for the Taliban, and were brought to Lahore for training, said Rehman.

Eight policemen also suffered bullet wounds, said Salman Saddiq, a government official.

One of the wounded, Shafqat Imran, said that eight to 10 attackers, their faces hidden behind hoods, stormed into the compound and started shooting randomly. They shouted "God is great," then shot the policemen one by one, said Imran, speaking from a hospital bed.

The Pakistani military launched a massive offensive against the Taliban in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Swat Valley in 2009, and many militants were captured and imprisoned.

Police said they suspect the gunmen who attacked the housing compound were the same ones who killed seven soldiers and a policeman at an army camp Monday about 160 kilometers (100 miles) northwest of Lahore. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for that attack as well.

The Pakistani Taliban have waged a blood insurgency against the government over the past few years, demanding it break ties with the United States and establish Islamic law throughout the country. The militants have killed thousands of soldiers, police and civilians in attacks.

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