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Quetta: At least 59 people were killed and 117 critically wounded when gunmen stormed a Pakistani police training academy in the south-western city of Quetta, government officials said on Tuesday.

Some 200 trainees were stationed at the facility when the attack occurred late on Monday, officials said, and some were taken hostage during the attack, which lasted five hours.

Many dead at Pakistan police academy

Dozens of police cadets are dead and scores more wounded after gunmen stormed in on a police academy in the city of Quetta.

Most of the dead were police cadets.

Mir Sarfraz Bugti, home minister of Baluchistan province, of which Quetta is the capital, had confirmed early on Tuesday that five to six gunmen had attacked a dormitory inside the training facility while cadets rested and slept.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but one of the top military commanders in Baluchistan, General Sher Afgun, told media that calls intercepted between the attackers and their handlers suggested they were from the sectarian militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.

“We came to know from the communication intercepts that there were three militants who were getting instructions from Afghanistan,” General Afgun told media, adding that the al-Alami cell of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi was behind the attack.

Baluchistan, particularly against  minority Hazara Shiites. It was unclear what motive the group would have in attacking the police academy, a home ministry official said.

Police, military and paramilitary personnel arrived at the training centre within 20 minutes of the attack and launched an operation which last around five hours, the home ministry said.

Pakistani volunteer medics rush an injured person to a hospital in Quetta after the police academy attack image www.crimefiles.net

Pakistani volunteer medics rush an injured person to a hospital in Quetta after the police academy attack.  Photo: AP

A Reuters photographer at the scene said authorities carried out the body of a teenage boy who they said was one of the attackers and had been shot dead by security forces.

Well-coordinated attack

An injured Pakistani commando lies down on a bed at a local hospital image www.crimefiles.net

An injured Pakistani commando lies down on a bed at a local hospital, who was transferred after gunmen attacked a police training center in a suburban area of the provincial capital of Quetta, Pakistan, Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2016. Gunmen stormed a police training center in the restive southwestern province of Baluchistan Monday, leaving scores of people killed and many wounded, authorities said. (AP Photo/Arshad Butt) Photo: ARSHAD BUTT

Monday night’s assault was the deadliest in Pakistan since a suicide bomber killed more than 70 people in an attack on mourners gathered at a hospital in Quetta in August.

The bomber struck as a crowd of mostly lawyers and journalists crammed into the emergency ward of the hospital to accompany the body of a prominent lawyer who had been shot and killed in the city earlier that day.

Pakistani troops enter the police academy in response to the terror attack in Baluchistan province image www.crimefiles.net

Pakistani troops enter the police academy in response to the terror attack in Baluchistan province. Photo: AP

Monday night’s attack also appeared well coordinated, with senior law enforcement agencies saying that assailants had fired at the police training centre from five different points.

The attackers then entered the centre’s hostel, where around 200 to 250 police recruits were resting, security officials said. At least three explosions were reported at the scene by local media

Supporters of a Pakistani religious group suggest that August's suicide attack in Quetta was carried out by RAW, the foreign intelligence agency of neighbouring India image www.crimefiles.net

Supporters of a Pakistani religious group suggest that August’s suicide attack in Quetta was carried out by RAW, the foreign intelligence agency of neighbouring India. Photo: AP

Quetta has long been regarded as a base for the Afghan Taliban, whose leadership has regularly held meetings there in the past.

The Afghan Taliban’s new leader, Haibatullah Akhundzada, openly taught and preached at a mosque outside Quetta for 15 years, until May this year. Akhundzada’s predecessor, Mullah Akhtar Mansour, was killed by a US drone strike while travelling to Quetta from the Pakistan-Iran border.

Members of Pakistan's Shiite minority flagellate themselves with knives as part of their ritual morning for Ashura in Quetta image www.crimefiles.net

Members of Pakistan’s Shiite minority flagellate themselves with knives as part of their ritual morning for Ashura in Quetta earlier this month. Photo: AP

Baluchistan province is no stranger to violence, with separatist fighters launching regular attacks on security forces for nearly a decade and the military striking back.

Militants, particularly sectarian groups, have also launched a campaign of suicide bombings and assassinations of minority Shiites.

Reuters, EFE

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