Death toll in police academy attack rises to 61;117 injured


QUETTA: At least 60 police recruits embraced martyrdom and 117 were injured in one of the deadliest militant attacks this year at the Balochistan Police College on Sariab road here on the night between Monday and Tuesday.
IG Frontier Corps (FC) Major General Sher Afgan while talking to media with Balochistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti said three gunmen burst into the sprawling academy, targeting 700 recruits inside the police training centre. .
Communication intercepts showed the attack was carried out by Al-Alimi faction of the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi (LJ) militant group, he further said.
Major General Sher Afgan, chief of the paramilitary FC in Balochistan, which led the counter-operation, said “the attack was over in around three hours after we arrived”. “The operation needed to be conducted with precision therefore it took us four hours to clear the area completely.”
“There were three terrorists and all of them were wearing suicide vests,” he said. “Two suicide attackers blew themselves up, which resulted in casualties, while the third one was shot dead by our troops.” He added that the militants had been communicating with their handlers in Afghanistan.
Afgan said communication intercepts showed the attackers belonged to LJ’s Al-Alimi faction, which is affiliated with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The group itself, however, has not claimed the attack.
According to the reports, most of the deaths were caused when two of the attackers blew themselves up. The third was shot dead by Frontier Corps (FC) troops.
Balochistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti confirmed to reporters that there had been three attackers. “They first targeted the watch tower sentry, and after exchanging fire, killed him and were able to enter the academy grounds,” he said.
The attack on the Balochistan Police College, around 20 kilometres east of Quetta, began at around 11:10 pm Monday, with gunfire continuing to ring out at the site for several hours.
Bugti said that at the time of the attack, an estimated 700 cadets were present inside the training centre. He further added that two suicide bombers also blew themselves up inside the training centre. One suicide bomber was killed before he could detonate himself. “The attackers were receiving directions from Afghanistan,” he said.
The area was plunged into darkness when a counter-offensive was launched, and security personnel threw up a cordon while ambulances zoomed in and out, taking the injured to hospitals. Military helicopters circled overhead.
The cadets were rescued from the college following an operation carried out by Special Services Group (SSG) commandos.
The training college is situated on Sariab Road, which is considered to be one of the most sensitive areas of Quetta. Militants have been targeting security forces in the area for almost a decade.
The training college has come under attack in the past in 2008 and 2006, with attackers firing rockets into the college playground. It covers about an acre of land located about 13 kilometers outside the main city of Quetta.
The attackers entered the complex through the front gate after shooting the guard manning the check post.
A senior law enforcement agency’s official said assailants had fired at the police training centre from five different points.
Two terrorists entered the premises after shooting at the guard manning the checkpost near the front gate, while the third reportedly climbed the rear wall of the police centre.
“Two attackers entered through the front gate,” Senior Superintendent Police Operations Mohammad Iqbal had said earlier. Iqbal said that the suicide jacket of one attacker was not detonated and his body was lying at the centre premises.
Initial investigations showed the terrorists had entered the hostel, he said. The SSP said that there had been trouble in distinguishing friend from foe as it was dark at the time.
An eyewitness speaking to reporters after making a narrow escape said he saw three terrorists directly enter the barracks. “They started firing. We saw them and started screaming. We ran upstairs towards an exit.” He described the terrorists being covered in shawls.
The barracks and hostel blocks are situated deep inside the compound, making it hard to hear any sounds of gunshots from the building.
The injured cadets were brought to Civil Hospital. Those in critical condition were shifted to CMH Quetta.
Extraordinary security arrangements were made in and outside the Civil Hospital to prevent any untoward incident, especially in the wake of August 8 attack when a suicide attacker targeted the hospital.
Emergency has been declared in all government hospitals of the provincial capital, with the injured shifted to Civil Hospital Quetta and the Bolan Medical Complex.
Speaking to a private TV channel, Balochistan Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri said in response to a question that the government had received intelligence reports a couple of days earlier of the presence of a couple of militants who had entered Quetta to carry out subversive activities.
“I am personally monitoring the security situation at the moment,” he said. “Those responsible for the terrorist attack will be brought to book,” he added.
Zehri said that as soon as the government had received intelligence reports of the presence of militants in the city, Quetta had been put on high alert.
Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif accompanied by DG ISI Lt-Gen Rizwan Akhtar and DG MI Major General Nadeem Zaki Manj, visited the police training college where the incident occurred.
According to reports, General Raheel will chair a high-level security meeting during his visit. He will also go to the hospital to visit the injured.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has cancelled all scheduled commitments and will arrive in Quetta in a couple of hours. Addressing a passing out parade, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar said he will depart for Quetta shortly.


COAS announces gallantry awards for martyred amry personnel

Rawalpindi: Chief of Army Staff General Raheel Sharif on Tuesday announced gallantry awards for Captain Roohullah and Naib Subedar Muhammad Ali who participated in an operation against the attackers of the Quetta police training academy Monday night, an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.
Captain Roohullah was awarded the Tamgha-i-Jurat, whereas Naib Subedar Muhammad Ali was awarded the Tamgha-i-Basalat, ISPR said.
An ISPR statement said the two men neutralised one suicide bomber and cornered another, helping a large number of police recruits escape before he exploded his suicide vest.
Capt Roohullah died in the attack, whereas Naib Subedar Muhammad Ali sustained injuries and was admitted to Quetta’s Civil Hospital.
Three heavily-armed militants wearing suicide vests stormed a police academy in Quetta, killing at least 60 people and wounding dozens more. At least 120 people were injured.

Zehri announces Three-day mourning over Quetta carnage

Quetta: Chief Minister Balochistan Sanaullah Zehrion Tuesday announced three days mourning over terrorist attack at police training centre in Quetta late night on Monday.
In solidarity with the families of victim, the provincial government announced a three-day mourning, hence, the flag would fly half mast on all the government buildings.
CM Balochistan while speaking on the occasion said that, intelligence alert was given to the government, while the security was at high alert for the last four days.
He said that the terrorists had targeted the Police training centre in Quetta after they were not an opportunity to target any place in city.
It is pertinent to mention here that at least 61 persons were martyred while over 100 were injured in terrorist attack when militants wearing suicide vests stormed into a police academy near Quetta in Balochistan overnight.

Daesh claimed Quetta Police College attack

ISLAMABAD: Militant group Islamic State (Daesh) )on Tuesday claimed responsibility for an attack on a police academy in Quetta, in which masked gunmen killed at least 59 people and wounded more than 100.
In August, Islamic State claimed responsibility for an attack on a gathering of mourners at a hospital in Quetta that killed 70 people. But that attack was also claimed by Pakistani Taliban faction Jamaat-ur-Ahrar.