59 killed after militants storm Quetta academy
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.