At least 60 killed and more than 100 injured as terrorists storm hostel using guns and suicide bombs, with army operation launched in response
At least 60 security personnel were killed, and 100 others were injured as terrorists stormed a police training centre in Quetta late Monday night in one of the deadliest extremist attacks in Pakistan in 2016.
The attack took place in the dead of night as heavily-armed militants wearing suicide vests stormed a Quetta police academy, killing at least 60, rescue officials said Tuesday. The death toll could rise as many cadets were seriously injured.
Three gunmen burst into the sprawling academy, targeting sleeping quarters home to some 700 recruits, and sent frightened young men aged between 15 and 25 fleeing.
“I saw three men in camouflage whose faces were hidden carrying Kalashnikovs,” one cadet said according to AFP news agency. “They started firing and entered the dormitory but I managed to escape over a wall.”
Balochistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti told media that the three attackers first attacked the watch tower sentry of the academy and after killing the guard, were able to enter the premises.
“In the early morning, we have the latest death toll of 58 people who died during the attack last night,” doctor Nasir Sumalani at Quetta’s government hospital, told AFP. Balochistan home ministry said 118 people were wounded.
The training college is situated on Saryab Road, which is considered to be one of the most sensitive areas of Quetta.
Pakistan army’s media department, ISPR, said five or six militants attacked the police training centre on Saryab Road in Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, a restless province home to a separatist insurgency and numerous terror groups.
Soldiers and members of the Frontier Constabulary, a paramilitary force, responded to the attack, the army said. The cadets were rescued from the college following an operation carried out by Special Services Group (SSG) commandos.
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami behind terrorist attack: IG Frontier Corps
IG Frontier Corps Major General Sher Afghan said the attackers were associated with Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami terrorist group — which is affiliated with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) — and were receiving directions from Afghanistan. “They were in communication with operatives in Afghanistan,” he said. The group itself has not claimed the attack.
Major General Sher Afgan, chief of the paramilitary FC in Balochistan, which led the counter-operation, said: “There were three terrorists and all of them were wearing suicide vests,” he added. “Two suicide attackers blew themselves up, which resulted in casualties, while the third one was shot dead by our troops.”
The operation needed to be conducted with precision, therefore it took us four hours to clear the area completely, he added.
Was ISIS involved in Quetta attack?
There is no official comment but some reports and tweets suggest that the terror group ISIS have reportedly been involved in the Quetta attack.
Saleem Mehsud, reporter for CNN, covering FATA, militancy and terrorism in Pakistan and Afghanistan claimed:
— Saleem Mehsud (@SaleemMehsud) October 24, 2016
Ihsan Tipu Mehsud, an investigative journalist covering the FATA region and working with The New York Times said:
Army Chief and PM reach Quetta after attack
Chief of Army Staff (COAS) Gen Raheel Sharif reached Quetta on Tuesday morning after the deadly attack, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said. The COAS was accompanied by the Director General Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Lieutenant General Rizwan Akhtar and the Director General Military Intelligence Major General Nadeem Zaki Manj, ISPR said.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has cancelled all scheduled commitments to arrive in Quetta and visit the victims and families of those who lost their loved ones.
Security beefed up all across Pakistan
Special security arrangements have been made all across Pakistan to prevent any untoward incident in the wake of Quetta terror attack.