At least 60 killed and more than 100 others injured as attackers using guns and suicide bombs storm hostel, with army operation launched in response

At least 60 people, mostly cadets, have been killed in an attack on a police training centre in the city of Quetta, Pakistani officials say. The announcement on Tuesday came at the end of a military counter-operation.

More than 100 people were also injured as commandos conducted a five-hour operation to rescue cadets who were held hostage inside the complex.

Three gunmen burst into the sprawling academy, targeting sleeping quarters home to some 700 recruits, and sent terrified young men aged between 15 and 25 fleeing.

“I saw three men in camouflage whose faces were hidden carrying Kalashnikovs,” one cadet said according to AFP news agency. “They started firing and entered the dormitory but I managed to escape over a wall.”

“In the early morning, we have the latest death toll of 58 people who died during the attack last night,” doctor Nasir Sumalani at Quetta’s government hospital, told AFP. Balochistan home ministry said 118 people were wounded.

Rescuers help an injured person to a hospital in Quetta, Pakistan, after a hostel for police cadets was attacked by militants. Photo: Arshad Butt/AP

Rescuers help an injured person to a hospital in Quetta, Pakistan, after a hostel for police cadets was attacked by militants. Photo: Arshad Butt/AP

Balochistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti told media that the three attackers first attacked the watch tower sentry of the academy and after killing the guard, were able to enter the premises.

The cadets were rescued from the college following an operation carried out by Special Services Group (SSG) commandos.

The training college is situated on Saryab Road, which is considered to be one of the most sensitive areas of Quetta -the capital of Pakistan’s restless province Balochistan.

Major General Sher Afgan, Inspector General of the Frontier Corps (FC), said after the operation had ended that six terrorists carried out the attack, three of whom were wearing suicide vests.

He said that the attackers were associated with Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami terrorist group — which is affiliated with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) — and were receiving directions from Afghanistan.  “They were in communication with operatives in Afghanistan,” he said. The group itself has not claimed the attack.

Soldiers arrive at the Balochistan Police Training College in Quetta. — AFP

Soldiers arrive at the Balochistan Police Training College in Quetta. — AFP

Major General Sher Afgan, chief of the paramilitary FC in Balochistan, which led the counter-operation, said: “There were three terrorists and all of them were wearing suicide vests,” he added. “Two suicide attackers blew themselves up, which resulted in casualties, while the third one was shot dead by our troops.”

The operation needed to be conducted with precision therefore it took us four hours to clear the area completely, he added.

The police academy is home to hundreds of students and many of the cadets who died were killed in the blasts, said Major General Sher Afgan of the Frontier Corps.

Militants storm police training academy in Quetta on 24 October 2016