UPDATE: 4:20 a.m. EDT — The Islamic State group, also called ISIS, claimed responsibility for the attack on a police academy in Quetta city in Pakistan. The attack left at least 60 cadets dead, Balochistan province’s Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti said, the Dawn newspaper reported.
The strike was the work of “Islamic State fighters,” the militant group's Amaq news agency said Tuesday, according to Reuters. Pakistani officials previously believed the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi group was behind this attack.
At least 58 people were killed and up to 118 wounded when three terrorists opened fire at a police academy in Pakistan’s Quetta city. Two militants blew themselves up and the third was gunned down by Pakistani troops.
The attackers burst into the academy late Monday night targeting the sleeping quarters, which are home to nearly 700 cadets. The Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militant group has claimed responsibility for the attack, according to Al Jazeera, however, other media reports said no one has claimed the attack. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is based in Pakistan with limited operations in nearby Afghanistan.
“I saw three men carrying Kalashnikovs ... they were in camouflage and their faces were hidden,” one cadet told Agence France-Presse (AFP). “They started firing and entered the dormitory but I managed to escape by climbing over a wall.”
Balochistan’s Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti tweeted saying the attack’s handlers are believed to be based in Afghanistan. “They first targeted the watch tower sentry, and after exchanging fire, killed him and were able to enter the academy grounds,” he reportedly said.
Quetta is the capital of Balochistan province and is not new to such attacks. Separate bombings in the city left over 80 dead in August.
Maj. Gen. Sher Afgan, chief of the paramilitary Frontier Corps in Balochistan, reportedly said: “The attack was over in around three hours after we arrived.” He added that the “terrorists were communicating with their handlers in Afghanistan” and all three had suicide vests on.
“Two suicide attackers blew themselves up, which resulted in casualties, while the third one was shot dead by our troops,” he said. Communication intercepts, he said, revealed the terrorists were working with Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.
Hundreds of trainees were evacuated and the injured were taken to Quetta’s Civil Hospital and those seriously injured were shifted to the Combined Military Hospital in the city. Additional security measures were adopted in and around the hospitals, the Dawn newspaper reported. The death toll in the wake of this attack is expected to rise with many cadets seriously injured.
“We have also received the body of one of the terrorists,” Nasir Sumalani, a doctor at Quetta’s government hospital, told AFP. This attack is Pakistan’s third deadliest this year. Local media reports said the academy, which is located about 8 miles from the city center, has been under attack twice in the past.