Pakistan massacre: Attack on police training academy leaves at least 62 dead

Pakistani family members of victims visit a police training centre where gunmen opened fire in Quetta, Pakistan. Photo / AP
Pakistani family members of victims visit a police training centre where gunmen opened fire in Quetta, Pakistan. Photo / AP

At least 62 people have been killed and around 100 others wounded in an attack on a Pakistani police training academy in the south western city of Quetta, officials say.

"59 people died in the police centre, in addition to the three attackers, and around 100 were injured," said Anwar-ul-Haq Kakar, government spokesperson for Baluchistan province.

More than 200 police trainees were stationed at the facility when the attack occurred late on Monday, officials said.

A Pakistani volunteer and a police officer rush an injured person to a hospital in Quetta. Photo / AP
A Pakistani volunteer and a police officer rush an injured person to a hospital in Quetta. Photo / AP

Some cadets were taken hostage during the attack, which lasted five hours. Most of the dead were police cadets.

"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 local media.

Mir Sarfaraz Bugti, home minister of Baluchistan province, said the gunmen attacked a dormitory inside the training facility while cadets rested and slept.

"Two attackers blew up themselves while a third one was shot in the head by security men," Bugti said.

Pakistani family members of victims mourn outside a police training centre. Photo / AP
Pakistani family members of victims mourn outside a police training centre. Photo / AP

A Reuters photographer at the scene said authorities carried out the body of a teenaged boy who they said was one of the attackers and had been shot dead by security forces.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but one of the top military commanders in Baluchistan, General Sher Afgun, told media that calls intercepted between the attackers and their handlers suggested they were from the sectarian Sunni militant group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ).

"We came to know from the communication intercepts that there were three militants who were getting instructions from Afghanistan," Afgun told media, adding that the Al Alami cell of LeJ was behind the attack.

LeJ, whose roots are in the heartland Punjab province, has a history of carrying out sectarian attacks in Baluchistan, particularly against the minority Hazara Shias.

Pakistani volunteers rush an injured person to a hospital. Photo / AP
Pakistani volunteers rush an injured person to a hospital. Photo / AP

Pakistan has previously acussed LeJ of colluding with al Qaeda.

A home ministry official said it was unclear what motive the group would have in attacking the police academy.

"Two, three days ago we had intelligence reports of a possible attack in Quetta city, that is why security was beefed up in Quetta, but they struck at police training college," Sanaullah Zehri, chief minister of Baluchistan, told the local Geo TV channel.

Monday night's assault was the deadliest in Pakistan since a suicide bomber killed 70 people in an attack on mourners gathered at a hospital in Quetta in August.

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