KARACHI, Pakistan – Suspected Islamic extremists stormed a police station in the southern city of Karachi (search) on Sunday and killed five police, forcing their victims to recite Quranic verses before shooting them, authorities said.
"We suspect that they are the same whose accomplices have been arrested by police," Syed Kamil Shah, provincial police inspector-general, told reporters, while declining to name the group outright.
The attack left pools of blood and bullet-scarred walls at the police station, a small building near the airport at Karachi, Pakistan's largest city and the frequent scene of regional violence.
Survivors — including two men who had been in detention at the station, and one policeman who had been at morning prayers — said 10 gunmen stormed the building around dawn.
The attackers shouted "We will not leave any police alive" and opened fire, officer Khaliq Shaikh told The Associated Press. The men forced their victims to recite Quranic verses for a few seconds before shooting them at close range, Shah said.
Two officers and three constables died. Policeman Mohammed Hussain, who had been at prayer, told AP he picked up his weapon and returned fire from the prayer room.
Hussain, who suffered a bullet wound to the arm, said he shot one attacker. The amount of blood outside led police to believe one assailant had been fatally wounded, although accomplices took him from the scene, said police deputy inspector-general Tariq Jamil.
Authorities later recovered one vehicle that the attackers abandoned after they fled, Shah said. The owner of the vehicle, a banker, gave a description of the men who took it, he said.
Authorities stepped up security at police stations around Karachi.
A port city of 14 million, Karachi has seen a series of attacks by Islamic extremists in recent years.
On March 15, police defused a huge bomb outside the U.S. Consulate in Karachi minutes before it was set to explode. Police have not announced any arrests.
A homicide bomber blew up a truck in front of the consulate in June 2002, killing 14 Pakistanis.
In April 2002, a bomb aimed at the motorcade of Pakistan's President Gen. Pervez Musharraf (search), a vital ally in the U.S. war on terrorism, failed to detonate as he traveled through Karachi. Three Islamic militants were sentenced to 10 years in prison in that attempt.
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi has been linked to a series of deadly attacks on Christians in Pakistan and on members of the country's Shiite minority. The group, which is believed to have sheltered Al Qaeda members in Pakistan, is also thought to be behind a July 4, 2003 mosque attack in Quetta that killed 50 people.