By Mubasher Bukhari
LAHORE, Pakistan (Reuters) – Gunmen attacked police offices in the Pakistani city of Lahore on Thursday and a car bomb exploded outside another in the northwest, killing at least 15 people after a week of violence in which more than 100 people died.
The attacks in Lahore in Pakistan’s heartland province of Punjab and in Kohat in the northwest followed a pattern of destabilizing assaults, including the storming of army headquarters, ahead of an impending military offensive against the Taliban in their south Waziristan stronghold.
Five people were killed when gunmen attacked a regional headquarters of the Pakistani police’s Federal Investigation Agency in Lahore.
One of the dead was a gunmen, a police official told reporters, adding that he building had been cleared of attackers.
Gunmen also attacked a police training center in Lahore but there was no word on casualties. Media had unconfirmed reports of a third attack in the city.
A suicide car-bomber attacked the same FIA building in Lahore in March last year killing 21 people.
Shortly before the attacks in Lahore, a suicide car bomber set off his explosives outside a police station in Kohat killing 10 people, police and military officials said.
“Some school children are among the dead,” a policeman at the scene said.
Pakistan’s government has said a ground offensive against an estimated 10,000 hard core Taliban is imminent in South Waziristan.
The government says most attacks in the country — including four major ones since October 5 that killed more than 100 people — are plotted in South Waziristan on the Afghan border.
A suspected U.S. drone aircraft fired two missiles at a house in the North Waziristan region on the Afghan border, killing four militants, Pakistani intelligence officials said.
The drone fired at a house 3 km (2 miles) north of Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan, and at least three Afghan Taliban members were among the four dead, the officials said.
“The owner of the house is a member of the Haqqani network,” said one of the intelligence officials, referring to veteran Afghan militant commander Jalaluddin Haqqani, whose men attack foreign forces in much of eastern Afghanistan.
The United States, struggling with an intensifying insurgency in Afghanistan and frustrated with Pakistan’s failure to eliminate Talibansanctuaries on its side of the border, stepped up attacks by its drones in September last year.
Hundreds of people, most of them militants but including some civilians, have been killed.
Pakistani Taliban leader Baitullah Mehsud was killed by a U.S. drone in August.