At least 61 people were killed in Quetta, Pakistan when terrorists targeted a Police Training College in the provincial capital of Balochistan on Monday night.

The local media reported that majority of those 61 people, who embraced martyrdom, were fresh police recruits. One cadet told the press that three men, carrying Kalashnikovs, entered the dormitory of the college at around 11:10pm (local time) and started firing. He also said that although some cadets managed to escape over a wall, many of his friends were unable to do so and lost their lives. Later, Home Minister of Balochistan Sarfraz Bugti confirmed that 117 cadets received serious injuries during the “horrific” attack.

Speaking at a press conference, the minister said that three terrorists, wearing suicide jackets, entered the Police Training College from the rare gate after killing a watchman and held 250 cadets hostage. Bugti also said that Army personnel, members of Frontier Corps (FC) and other law enforcement agencies reached the college immediately after receiving the news and launched an operation. The Pakistani Army used helicopters and drones for surveillance during the three-hour operation.

Meanwhile, Home Minister Bugti accused al-Alimi faction of the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militant outfit of carrying out the attack, saying that al-Alami militants were continuously getting instructions from neighbouring Afghanistan. Chief of Pakistan’s Paramilitary Frontier Corps in Balochistan Major General Sher Afgan, too, blamed al-Alimi terrorists for the attack. He claimed that the attackers, including a 12-year-old boy, were Afghan Uzbeks and they wore suicide jackets. “Two of the terrorists blew themselves up, while the third was killed by security forces,” Afgan told reporters. On Tuesday, Pakistani Army Chief General Raheel Sharif, Chief Minister of Balochistan Nawab Sanaullah Khan Zehri, a number of provincial ministers, elected representatives and other civil and military officials attended a funeral prayer in Quetta, which is popularly known as the ‘fruit garden’ of Pakistan because of the numerous fruit orchards in and around the city.

Later on Tuesday, the Islamic State (IS) terror outfit claimed responsibility for the attack, saying in a statement that fighters, loyal to its movement, attacked the Police Training College. According to the statement, three IS fighters “used machine guns and grenades, and then blew up their explosive vests in the crowd”. However, the Pakistani government is yet to confirm the involvement of IS terrorists in the attack.

Interestingly, terrorists attacked the Police Training College just a day after the Nawaz Sharif government in Islamabad froze 5,100 bank accounts of suspected terrorists, including Jaish-e-Muhammad chief Masood Azhar. Ihsan Ghani, the Co-ordinator of National Counterterrorism Authority, said that the concerned authorities made the move under the Anti-Terrorism Act (ATA). He also said that these accounts carry a net amount of more than PKR 400 million. Earlier, the State Bank of Pakistan (SBP) listed these accounts in Category ‘A’ of the ATA. In Pakistan, Category ‘A’ is used for terrorists who pose an exceptional or high risk. “Following the request of the Interior Ministry, we have frozen accounts of all top suspected terrorists, including Masood Azhar, son of Allah Bux,” added Ghani.

Koushik Das, based in the Indian capital of New Delhi, is a senior news editor with more than 15 years of experience. He also runs a blog - Boundless Ocean of Politics. E-Mail: [email protected]o