59 killed af­ter mil­i­tants storm Quetta academy

7 Days in Dubai - - GLOBAL NEWS -

An at­tack by a group of mil­i­tants, in­clud­ing sui­cide bombers who stormed a Pak­istani po­lice academy in the south­west­ern city of Quetta, left at least 59 dead, mostly po­lice trainees, of­fi­cials said yes­ter­day.

No one im­me­di­ately claimed re­spon­si­bil­ity for the at­tack, for which au­thor­i­ties blamed the Tal­iban and Al Qaeda-linked groups. Pak­istani troops re­spond­ing to the as­sault said they killed one of the sui­cide bombers while two oth­ers det­o­nated their ex­plo­sives vests, blow­ing them­selves up.

Health of­fi­cials said more than 117 have been wounded – mostly po­lice re­cruits and some para­mil­i­tary troops.

Noorul Haq, top health of­fi­cial in Quetta, the cap­i­tal of the coun­try’s restive Ba l u c h i s t a n prov­ince, said sev­eral of the wounded were in crit­i­cal con­di­tion, spark­ing con­cerns the death toll would rise fur­ther.

A se­cu­rity of­fi­cial, speak­ing on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause he was not au­tho­rised to talk to the me­dia, put the death toll at 51 but that fig­ure could not in­de­pen­dently be con­firmed.

The at­tack started at 11.30pm on Mon­day and pro­vin­cial Home Min­is­ter Sar­fraz Bugti said the at­tack­ers shot and killed a po­lice guard at the watch tower be­fore they stormed into the fa­cil­ity.

There were dis­parate fig­ures as to the num­ber of at­tack­ers. Pro­vin­cial po­lice chief Ah­san Mah­boob said there were four gun­men while a state­ment is­sued by the mil­i­tary put the num­ber of at­tack­ers at up to six.

About 700 cadets, trainees, in­struc­tors and other staff were in­side the academy when it was at­tacked, Bugti said, adding that the gun bat­tle with the mil­i­tants lasted for at least four hours.

Once in­side the academy grounds, the gun­men headed straight to the dorms hous­ing the cadets and trainees and opened fire, shoot­ing in­dis­crim­i­nately. Some of the cadets jumped off the rooftops and through win­dows to try to es­cape.

“They were rush­ing to­ward our build­ing, fir­ing,” one cadet told Pak­istani Geo TV news chan­nel. “We rushed for safety to­ward the roof and jumped down in the back of the build­ing.”

An­other re­cruit, his face cov­ered in blood, told the sta­tion the gun­men shot at who­ever they saw. “I ran away, just pray­ing God might save me,” he said.

Af­ter hours of siege, the at­tack was over, said Bugti, the home min­is­ter. Pak­istani forces tight­ened se­cu­rity around the academy and Quetta hos­pi­tals were the wounded were taken.

Footage aired on lo­cal tele­vi­sion sta­tions showed am­bu­lances rush­ing out of the main en­trance of the academy as fire en­gines strug­gled to put out fires set off by the ex­plo­sions from the at­tack­ers' sui­cide vests.

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