Mil­i­tants kill 60 in at­tack on po­lice academy

The Myanmar Times - - World -

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

Photo: AFP

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