61 Pak cadets were sitting ducks

165 people also injured as terrorists storm police training college

Quetta: At least 61 security personnel, mostly young cadets, were massacred and 165 others injured when heavily-armed Islamic State militants stormed a police training centre here in the restive Balochistan province, the deadliest terror attack on a security facility in Pakistan. The hours-long attack on the facility — which was home to nearly 700 recruits — started late on Monday night and continued till early hours on Tuesday.

At least three gunmen stormed Quetta’s sprawling Police Training College and targeted the sleeping quarters of recruits. They first killed a police guard at the watch tower and then stormed the dormitory while cadets rested. The attack sent the terrified men aged between 15 and 25 fleeing for safety. Many of the cadets jumped off the rooftop in a bid to escape the carnage.

Eyewitnesses said the attackers were armed with Kalashnikovs. The attack appeared well coordinated, with experts saying the militants fired at the training centre from five separate points.

Most of the deaths occurred when two of the attackers blew themselves up. The third was shot dead by Frontier Corps troops. “We can confirm 61 dead in the attack at the police training college. They include 60 police cadets and one army soldier,” officials said.

165 people were injured in the attack and about 20 of them were critical.

IG Frontier Corps (FC) Major General Sher Afgan said the three terrorists were believed to be from the Al-Alimi faction of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi group affiliated to Pakistani Taliban. He told reporters the militants were communicating with handlers in Afghanistan and taking instructions from them. All three attackers were wearing suicide vests.

However, later Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the attack. It said three attackers were deployed for the attack but did not state the motive for the assault.

Pakistan’s army chief General Raheel Sharif reached Quetta to take stock of the situation. He attended the funeral prayer of those killed and visited the facility, where he was briefed on the attack by officials.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif also arrived in Quetta and chaired high-level meetings here. Sharif directed all law enforcement agencies in the province to take strict action against banned outfits.

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