Gunmen kill at least 60 in Pakistan police attack

Posted on October 26, 2016

QUETTA, PAKISTAN -- Heavily-armed Islamist militants wearing suicide vests stormed a Pakistani police academy, killing at least 60 people and wounding dozens more, officials said Tuesday, in one of the deadliest extremist attacks this year.

Pakistani relatives mourn the loss of family members in Quetta on Oct. 25, after an overnight militant attack on the Police Training College in the south-western city. -- AFP
Three gunmen from a Pakistani 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 kilometers east of provincial capital Quetta, began at around 11:10 p.m. (1810 GMT) Monday, with gunfire continuing to ring out at the site for several hours.

Sarfaraz Bugti, home minister of Balochistan province, told reporters there had been three attackers.

“They first targeted the watch tower sentry, and after exchanging fire, killed him and were able to enter the academy grounds,” he said.

Balochistan’s provincial government spokesman Anwarullah Kakar told AFP that 60 people had died in the attack, with 118 injured, mostly minor wounds.

The head of the local hospital, doctor Fareed Sumalani, confirmed that their morgue had received at least 60 bodies.

Security was tight outside the academy Tuesday morning, with media kept out of the building as a large contingent of security forces swept the area.

Weeping relatives arrived at the academy and were sent to the main hospital, where authorities were starting to prepare for funerals.

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.”

He added that communications intercepts showed the militants belonged to the Al-Alimi faction of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militant group -- which is affiliated with the Pakistani Taliban.

The group itself has not claimed the attack.

Mr. Bugti said the compound was home to some 700 recruits, hundreds of whom were rescued.

Mineral-rich but impoverished Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest province, is beset by sectarian strife, Islamist violence and an on-off separatist insurgency that has lasted for decades. -- AFP