Sixty cadets were killed and 120 injured in a terror attack on a police training centre in Pakistan’s restive Balochistan province that was claimed by the Islamic State.
Officials said the three attackers who stormed the Quetta Police Training College in the Balochistan capital late on Monday night were getting instructions from Afghanistan. The provincial home minister blamed Indian intelligence agencies for the strike but did not give any evidence to back up his claim.
The IS said on Tuesday its fighters were responsible for the attack. The Amaq news agency, often used by the IS to claim attacks, described the strike as a “three-man suicide raid”.
It said fighters from the terror group’s Khorasan chapter “used machine guns and grenades, then blew up their explosive vests in the crowd”. Amaq posted a photo of three fighters who purportedly carried out the attack on social media.
Balochistan home minister Mir Sarfraz Bugti said 60 cadets were killed. He said two attackers blew themselves up and the third was shot dead by security forces.
Maj Gen Sher Afgan, chief of the paramilitary Frontier Corps in Balochistan, said, “The attack was over in around three hours and the terrorists were communicating with their handlers in Afghanistan.”
He said the attackers belonged to the Al-Alami faction of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, which is affiliated with the Pakistani Taliban.
Police officials said the attackers headed straight for the hostel where recruits were sleeping after entering the training centre located 13 km from the heart of Quetta city. They first targeted a sentry in a watch tower and killed him in an exchange of fire before entering the sprawling compound.
Bugti told reporters at the site early on Tuesday that the three militants were wearing suicide jackets. He said the compound was housing some 700 recruits at the time of the attack, and hundreds of them were rescued.
Bugti blamed Indian intelligence agencies for coordinating the attack. “They are doing this to weaken us,” he alleged.
Analyst Hasan Askari Rizvi told the media that the attack came at a time when China is establishing a multi-billion dollar economic corridor which would run through Balochistan province. “This is being done to create a scare and possibly sabotage this project,” he said.
In August, a suicide bombing at a Quetta hospital claimed by both the Islamic State and the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar faction of the Pakistani Taliban killed 73 people, including many of the city’s lawyers who had gathered to mourn the fatal shooting of a colleague.