An attack on a police academy in Quetta, Pakistan, has left more than 60 people dead and more than 100 others injured, NPR’s Philip Reeves reports.
Most of the dead were young police cadets, he says.
“The cadets were asleep when the assault began. One survivor says three or four gunmen barged into their dormitory and started firing,” Philip reports. “Some cadets escaped by jumping off the roof. Officials say all the attackers are now dead, and that two detonated suicide vests.”
The siege lasted four hours, The Associated Press reports, with the attackers battling Pakistani troops who responded to the assault. Some army personnel were among the victims of the battle, which finally ended in the early hours of Tuesday morning.
About 700 cadets, trainees and staff were in the police academy when it was attacked, a local official told the AP.
Some of the wounded are in critical condition and there are worries the death toll may rise even further, according to the news service.
Quetta is the capital of the province of Baluchistan, in southwestern Pakistan. Separatist insurgents regularly carry out attacks there, Philip reports.
There’s disagreement over who was responsible for the attack on the academy. “A senior Pakistani security official is blaming an offshoot of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a notoriously violent Islamist sectarian group,” Philip says.
Meanwhile the AP reports that the Hakimullah group, “a little known breakaway faction of the Pakistani Taliban,” has claimed responsibility for the attack, but that Pakistani authorities doubt whether the group has the ability to carry out such an attack.
The AP describes video of the attack’s aftermath, aired on local TV stations:
” ‘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 the attack, 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.”
The news service reports that some of the injured were struck by bullets, while others had been wounded by their leap from the building’s roof to escape the attack.
You may remember an attack on a hospital in Quetta killed scores of people just a few months ago.
“The number of attacks in Pakistan has dropped after an army crackdown on some militant groups — yet they haven’t stopped,” Philip notes.
“This year alone, they’ve killed hundreds, including children, women and college kids.”