60 martyred as terrorists storm police facility in Quetta
Last Updated On 25 October,2016 10:40 am
Photo: The attack was carried out by Al-Alimi faction of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militant group.
QUETTA (Dunya News / AFP) – At least 60 people, most of them fresh police recruits, embraced martyrdom in terrorists attack on the Police Training College in Quetta on Monday night.
Three gunmen from a Taliban-linked group burst into the sprawling academy, targeting sleeping quarters that are home to some 700 recruits, sending terrified young men fleeing.
"I saw three men in camouflage whose faces were hidden carrying Kalashnikovs," one cadet told reporters. "They started firing and entered the dormitory but I managed to escape over a wall."
The attack on the Balochistan Police College, around 20 kilometres east of provincial capital Quetta, began at around 11:10 pm (1810 GMT) Monday, with gunfire continuing to ring out at the site for several hours.
Addressing a press conference after the security forces retook the control of the police facility from terrorists, Sarfraz Bugti, Home Minister of Balochistan informed that 60 persons embraced martyrdom in the attack while 117 were wounded.
He said that three terrorists, wearing suicide jackets, entered the Police Training College from the rare gate after martyring a watchman and held 250 cadets hostage.
Sarfraz Bugti said that contingents of army, Frontier Corps (FC) and other law enforcement agencies arrived at the scene soon after the attack and launched an operation. Helicopters and drones were also used for surveillance.
He further said that one of the terrorists detonated his suicide vest before the arrival of security forces, causing most of the deaths.
Sarfraz Bugti informed that the attack was carried out by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al Alami militants who were continuously getting instructions from Afghanistan.
Major General Sher Afgan, chief of the paramilitary Frontier Corps in Balochistan, which led the counter-operation, said "the attack was over in around three hours after we arrived."
Photo: Picture of one of the terrorists
"They were in communication with operatives in Afghanistan," he said.
The area was plunged into darkness when the counter-offensive was launched, while security personnel threw up a cordon and ambulances zoomed in and out, taking the injured to hospitals. Military helicopters circled overhead.
Sources said that the attackers, including a 12-year-old boy, were Afghan Uzbeks and were wearing suicide jackets. Two of the terrorists blew themselves up while the third was killed by security forces.
In August, a suicide bombing at a Quetta hospital claimed by Jamaat-ul-Ahrar faction of Taliban killed 73 people, including many of the city s lawyer community who had gone there to mourn the fatal shooting of a colleague.
Pakistan has been battling an militant insurgency since shortly after it decided to ally with the US following its invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
Violence has declined in recent years following a series of military offensives in the northwest border areas as well as concerted efforts to block the militants sources of funding.
But the remnants of militant groups are still able to carry out periodic bloody attacks, particularly in the northwest.
Balochistan is also a key region for China’s ambitious $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) infrastructure project linking its western province of Xinjiang to the Arabian Sea via Pakistan.
Security problems have mired CPEC in the past with numerous attacks, but China has said it is confident the Pakistani military is in control.
ISIS Claims Quetta Attack, and Pakistan Goes on High Alert
By SALMAN MASOOD
OCT. 25, 2016
Bodies of the victims outside a hospital in Quetta, Pakistan, on Tuesday. In the background, the body of a man believed to have been one of the attackers lay uncovered. Credit Jamal Taraqai/European Pressphoto Agency
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — The Islamic State claimed responsibility on Tuesday for the latest major attack in Pakistan, an overnight assault on a police training college in the southwest that officials said had killed at least 61 people, most of them cadets.
The attack, carried out by three militants wielding guns and explosives, also wounded 120 people at the college outside Quetta, the capital of the restive province of Baluchistan. The militants struck late Monday and battled security forces for several hours before they were killed. Two detonated suicide vests, and the third was shot, said Mir Sarfraz Bugti, a provincial minister.
The Amaq news agency, which acts as a news wire for the Islamic State, posted a picture of three men holding guns and wearing ammunition vests who it said were the attackers. The Islamic State had also claimed responsibility for the last major attack in the Quetta area, an August suicide bombing at a hospital in the city that killed dozens of lawyers.
International By REUTERS 00:36
Officials Speak After Attack in Pakistan
Militants stormed a police training academy in Quetta, Pakistan, and dozens were killed by gunfire. By REUTERS on Publish Date October 24, 2016. Photo by Banaras Khan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images. Watch in Times Video »
Pakistani officials had earlier blamed Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a banned militant group affiliated with the Taliban, for the assault on the police college. After the Islamic State claimed responsibility, a senior security official, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the news media, said the Islamic State had “outsourced” the attack to Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.
The assault on the college showed that extremist groups remain a serious threat for the Pakistani military and security forces, which have claimed great success against militants in recent years. As the country reeled Tuesday from the latest attack, security forces were put on high alert across Pakistan, and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the army chief, Gen. Raheel Sharif, said they would visit Quetta.
Baluchistan is home to a decades-old separatist insurgency, and Taliban militants maintain a presence in Quetta and many other parts of the province, which borders Afghanistan and Iran. Anwar ul-Haq Kakar, a spokesman for the Baluchistan government, blamed Afghanistan for the attack on the police college.
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“All such attacks have been managed from across the border in Afghanistan,” Mr. Kakar said. “Hostile intelligence agencies of neighboring countries are directly responsible for terrorism in Pakistan.”
Mr. Kakar said that some of the wounded were in critical condition and that the death toll could rise. “We are investigating the failure of law enforcement agencies,” he said.
Baluchistan’s chief minister, Nawab Sanaullah Zehri, said intelligence reports days earlier had indicated that an attack on Quetta was imminent. He suggested that security preparations in the city itself had led the militants to target the college, which is about nine miles from the capital.
Relatives waited outside the police training college on Tuesday. Credit Naseer Ahmed/Reuters
“Security was already on high alert, and maybe that is why they have targeted the police training center on the outskirts of the city,” Mr. Zehri said.
One of the wounded cadets, Qasim Ali, said the attack had begun late Monday night as they were getting ready for bed. “Suddenly we heard gunshots,” he said by telephone from a hospital.
“We ran toward the hall door to close it,” Mr. Ali said. “I was wounded in my chest and left leg when the attacker threw an explosive device inside the hall.” He said he took cover under a bed and lost consciousness.
“I wish we’d had enough guns,” Mr. Ali said. “The terrorists could have been killed easily before they could kill us.” Cadets ordinarily do not keep weapons with them during training.
By Sophia Saifi and Juliet Perry,
Updated 0542 GMT (1342 HKT) October 25, 2016
Video: Militant attack on Pakistan police academy kills dozens 02:52
Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN)
At least 59 people were killed and 118 injured when militants attacked a police training academy in Quetta, Pakistan, late Monday night, government officials said.
Major General Sher Afgan, Chief of the Paramilitary Frontier Corps, told reporters Tuesday that Pakistan-based group Lashkar-e-jhangvi was behind the attack — an al Qaeda-linked militant group that has repeatedly carried out deadly attacks on the country’s Shiite Muslim minority in recent years.
One attacker was killed by security forces; two others died when they detonated bombs they were carrying, said Sarfraz Bugti, Home Minister for Balochistan province, where Quetta is located. He added the assault ended in the early hours of Tuesday.
The attackers targeted a hostel at the academy where as many as 700 police cadets live. Two hundred cadets were rescued Monday night, Bugti said.
Five or six "terrorists entered the training school and (went) straight to the hostel where they took cadets hostage," the Pakistani army said in a statement.
Photo: Pakistani army soldiers arrive at the Balochistan Police Training College in Quetta after militants attacked the police academy.
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is known for targeting Shiites in Sunni-majority Pakistan, including a series of bombings in early 2013 that left more than 160 people dead in Balochistan province.
Last year, the then head of the group, Malik Ishaq, was killed during a shootout after armed men on motorcycles ambushed a police convoy that was transporting him between prisons in Punjab province.
Photo: Pakistani police escort Malik Ishaq as he arrives at the high court in Lahore on December 22, 2014.
Laskhar-e Jhangvi also claimed responsibility for a January 2014 bombing of a bus carrying Shiite pilgrims that killed more than 20 people.
The group was outlawed in Pakistan in 2001 and designated a terrorist organization by the US State Department in 2003.
Quetta is the capital of Balochistan, a province long-plagued by violence.
In August of this year, the city saw one of the deadliest attacks Pakistan has ever seen when prominent lawyer, and president of the Balochistan Bar Association, Bilal Kasi, was murdered by gunmen.
Hours later, more than 72 people were killed in a bombing at a hospital where his body was taken.
Video: Pakistan mourning over deadly hospital blast 02:25
"No one will be allowed to disturb peace in the province that has been restored due to countless sacrifices of security forces, police and the people of Balochistan," Pakistan’s Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif said at the time.
The prime minister also said in a statement that he had directed authorities to "maintain utmost vigilance."
CNN’s Juliet Perry wrote from Hong Kong. Journalist Syed Ali Shah in Quetta contributed to this report.