The Islamic State said on Tuesday its fighters were responsible for an attack on a police training centre in the Pakistani city of Quetta that killed 60 people and injured 120.
The Amaq news agency, often used by the IS to claim attacks, described the attack as a “three-man suicide raid”. It said the IS 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 the three fighters who purportedly carried out the attack on social media.
Before Amaq published the claim on social media, Maj Gen Sher Afghan, chief of the paramilitary Frontier Corps in Balochistan, told the media that the attack was carried out by the Al-Alami faction of the banned Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ). Intercepted calls between the attackers and their handlers suggested there were “three militants who were getting instructions from Afghanistan”, he said.
In August, the IS had claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing at a Quetta hospital that killed 73 people, most of them lawyers. However, that attack was also claimed by the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar faction of Pakistani Taliban.
Hundreds of police cadets were at the centre when masked attackers stormed the compound on the outskirts of Quetta late on Monday. Some cadets were taken hostage during the raid, which lasted nearly five hours.
“Militants came directly into our barrack. They just barged in and started firing point blank. We started screaming and running around in the barrack,” one cadet who survived told the media.
Other cadets said they jumped out of windows or cowered under beds as the attackers hunted them down.
Balochistan home minister Mir Sarfaraz Bugti said two attackers blew up themselves up and a third one was shot in the head by security forces. A Reuters photographer at the scene said authorities carried out the body of a teenage boy who they said was the attacker who was shot dead.
The LeJ has its roots in Punjab, Pakistan’s most populous province, and it once had deep connections with the security establishment. It often carried out attacks in Balochistan that targeted the minority Shia Hazara community.
The IS has tried to make inroads in Pakistan since it announced the formation of its Khorasan chapter in January 2015. Pakistani authorities have dismissed previous IS claims of responsibility for attacks.
The IS has attracted hundreds of jihadis in Pakistan and Afghanistan and has a presence in the eastern Afghan province of Nangarhar, where the leader of the Khorasan chapter, Hafiz Saeed Khan, was killed by a US drone on July 26.
(With inputs from agencies)