At least 58 police trainees were killed after militants attacked a police academy in the Pakistani city of Quetta, officials and the country’s military said Tuesday.
The incident took place in Pakistan’s restive southwestern Baluchistan province.
There were conflicting reports about the number of attackers and sequence of events but local media said three suicide bombers stormed the training center and held hostages for several hours before detonating explosive vests. About 700 cadets, trainees and instructors were in the college at the time of the attack.
More than 100 people were wounded — mostly police trainees and some paramilitary troops — in the incident, said Noor Haq Baloch, Baluchistan’s top health official. All the attackers were killed.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the assault. Similar attacks in recent years have been blamed on the Taliban, al-Qaeda and separatist groups.
Eyewitness accounts said the attackers were wearing masks and fired indiscriminately at people inside the compound.
The head of Pakistan’s security forces responsible for Baluchistan claimed the attackers received instructions from commanders in neighboring Afghanistan. Maj. Gen. Sher Afgan told the Associated Press they were most likely from the banned Lashker-e-Jhangvi Al-Almi militant group affiliated with al-Qaeda and the Taliban.
Pakistan’s Dawn newspaper reported that the attack was one of the deadliest to take place in Pakistan this year and that the militants gained entry to the sprawling academy after killing a guard stationed in a watch tower. Afgan said the security forces’ counter-operation lasted about three hours.
Nationalist and separatist groups in Baluchistan have been demanding more autonomy and a bigger share in regional resources for over a decade. The area is also home to Islamic militant groups. In August, 88 people were killed in bombing attacks in Quetta that targeted a hospital and members of Pakistan’s judiciary.
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