Militants kill 60 in attack on police academy
PAKISTAN mourned yesterday the killing of at least 60 people in a brutal gun and suicide bomb assault on a police academy, the deadliest attack on a security installation in the country’s history.
Three gunmen burst into the academy in the southwest, targeting sleeping quarters home to some 700 recruits in a strike that sent terrified young men fleeing.
“I saw three men in camouflage whose faces were hidden carrying Kalashnikovs,” one cadet told reporters. “They started firing and entered the dormitory but I managed to escape over a wall.”
The attack on the Balochistan Police College, around 20 kilometres (12.5 miles) east of the provincial capital Quetta, began around 11:10pm on October 24, with gunfire continuing to ring out at the site for several hours.
Sarfaraz Bugti, home minister of Balochistan province, told reporters there had been three attackers.
“They first targeted the watchtower sentry, and after exchanging fire killed him and were able to enter the academy grounds,” he said.
Major General Sher Afgan, chief of the paramilitary Frontier Corps in Balochistan which led the counter operation, blamed the attack on the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) militant group, and said the counterstrike was over in three hours.
An emailed claim from the Pakistani Taliban, which shares close operation ties with LeJ, backed that assertion.
“This attack was carried [on the instructions of] Mullah Daud Mansour, close ally of Hakimullah Mehsud and head of Pakistani Taliban in Karachi,” it said, adding four fighters took part.
“This was to avenge the killing of those of our Mujahideen who were killed indiscriminately [in encounters] outside jails in Punjab,” it said in an apparent reference to the recent surge in extrajudicial executions of LeJ fighters.
The Islamic State group also made a claim via Amaq, its affiliated news agency, and released a picture of what it said were the three attackers. It was the latest competing claim from IS,
which has struggled to gain traction in Pakistan against more established groups.
A morgue list seen by AFP had 61 people as dead though it was not clear whether the figure included any of the attackers.
It was the third deadliest attack of the year in Pakistan, which has been racked by a homegrown Islamist insurgency since shortly after the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
Mineral-rich but impoverished Balochistan, Pakistan’s largest province, is beset by sectarian strife, Islamist violence and an on-off separatist insurgency.
The army has also repeatedly been accused by international rights groups of abuses there, particularly against nationalists demanding autonomy and a greater share of the region’s resources.
Pakistan has been battling an Islamist insurgency since shortly after it decided to ally with the US following its invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.
Security personnel stand guard as an ambulance carrying the coffins of victims drives past yesterday. Militants killed at least 60 people in an attack on a police academy near Quetta on October 24