Pakistani police recover weapons used by attackers of school

Wednesday, August 7, 2002

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan -- Police recovered grenades, knives and ammunition abandoned by masked gunmen who killed six Pakistanis at a school for children of foreign Christian missionaries, officials said Tuesday.

The discovery indicated the attackers, believed to have numbered up to four, may have planned to kill students at the Murree Christian School or take them hostage had they not been driven off Monday by campus security guards.

However, police in nearby Pakistani-controlled Kashmir said the attackers may have been the three men who blew themselves up with a grenade Tuesday after being stopped a checkpoint.

Motive unclear

The motive for the attack on the school was unclear. However, a note found at the scene warned the assailants "will do more in the future to avenge what is being done by infidels with Muslims all over the world," according to a Pakistani military intelligence officer who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Classes were suspended Tuesday for the 150 students, who include Americans, Australians, Europeans and New Zealanders. The school's board met Tuesday in emergency session to consider whether to close.

The school, founded in 1956 to educate children of missionaries in South Asia, shut down soon after the Sept. 11 attacks but reopened in February.

None of the students were injured, which Morton attributed to luck and quick thinking by staff and security. All the dead were Pakistani, including two security guards, a receptionist, a cook, a carpenter and a bystander.

Police stop suspects

In Kashmir, police said they stopped three men Tuesday on a road near Dherkot about 25 miles northeast of Murree for a routine check.

Police overpowered one of the men when he resisted efforts to search him. One of his companions threatened to explode a grenade if the other was not released. Police said the men told them that, "We are not your enemy. We are the ones who killed the nonbelievers in Murree."

Police agreed to release them and the three began running toward nearby Jhelum River. Suddenly, the grenade exploded, blasting two of the men into the river. The body of the third was recovered on the riverbank.

"These are the same attackers," Kashmir police officer Haji Syed Haseeb Hussain told The Associated Press, referring to the Murree assailants. He said the men were dressed in clothing similar to that worn by the Murree assailants and that police recovered one exploded grenades similar to those recovered at the Murree campus.

Morton said the death toll could have been much greater if campus security guards had not responded quickly. The main campus is manned 24 hours a day by five armed security guards. Three other guards watch a 10-15 acre dormitory complex about a half mile away.

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