Quetta attack: Pakistan reels as more than 50 die in assault on police academy

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Terrorists explode suicide vests after storming into Balochistan police college firing machine guns and throwing hand grenades, say cadets and authorities

At least 59 people have died and more than 110 were injured after a team of heavily armed suicide attackers stormed a police training academy in the Pakistani city of Quetta.

The government said three gunmen attacked the Balochistan police college on the outskirts of the capital of Balochistan province at about 11.20pm local time on Monday, killing two guards on the front gate and then making straight for the hostel where 700 cadets were sleeping.

Peer Jan Naeem, 23, said he and his fellow cadets were left at the mercy of Allah.

They were carrying Kalashnikovs and firing blindly and throwing hand grenades, he said. No one was there to help us so we fell to the ground and hid beneath our beds. One of the militants shouted Allahu Akbar (God is great) before detonating his suicide vest, he said.

Officials said most of the deaths were caused by two suicide blasts, with the third attacker shot dead before he could blow himself up. Many of the cadets sustained injuries after jumping out of windows to escape.

The attack echoed the devastating December 2014 massacre at the army public school in Peshawar, which killed more than 130 schoolboys, and the January 2016 assault on the Bacha Khan University in Charsadda, in which more than 20 were killed.

The Balochistan police college is located far from the city centre on Saryab Road, complicating the work of rescue workers who had to ferry the injured to the Quetta civil hospital about eight miles (14km) away.

Speaking during the attack, Zarak Khan, a rescue worker for the Edhi foundation, said rescuers were at first unable to enter the compound as security forces tried to fight their way in.

Personnel from the paramilitary frontier constabulary (FC), the army and police rushed to the scene while military helicopters circled overhead. Officials said security personnel struggled to distinguish between attackers and friendly forces after electricity was cut, plunging the area into darkness.

The final assault to clear the compound was carried out by commandos from Pakistans elite special services group and the site was finally fully secured four hours after the attack began.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/oct/25/quetta-attack-pakistan-reels-as-more-than-50-die-in-assault-on-police-academy