At lease 60 cadets were killed and more than 116 injured as terrorists attack the Police Training College in Quetta, Pakistan, in one of the deadliest extremist attacks this year.
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, Dawn News reported.
Communication intercepts showed the attack was carried out by Al-Alimi faction of the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi militant group, IG Frontier Corps (FC) Major General Sher Afgan said. The group itself has not claimed the attack.
Most of the deaths were caused when two of the attackers blew themselves up. The third was shot dead by Frontier Corps (FC) troops. At least 120 people were injured, according to Dawn News.
The IG FC said "terrorists were communicating with their handlers in Afghanistan". "There were three terrorists and all of them were wearing suicide vests," he added.
The training college is situated on Sariab Road, which is considered to be one of the most sensitive areas of Quetta. Militants have been targeting security forces in the area for almost a decade.
The attack comes a day after militants belonging to the Baloch Liberation Army on a motorcycle shot dead two coast guards and a civilian and wounded a shopkeeper in a remote southwest coastal town in Balochistan.
In August, a suicide bombing at a Quetta hospital claimed by the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar faction of the Pakistani Taliban killed 73 people, including many of the city's lawyer community who had gone there to mourn the fatal shooting of a colleague.
Pakistan says intelligence agencies of India and Afghanistan are fanning unrest in Balochistan by helping the rebels and sectarian militant outfits. According to Islamabad Policy Research Institute, the Indian consulate in Kandahar, a border town, provides a firm base to train, arm and dispatch militants across the border to undertake sabotage activities in Balochistan. Indian companies have been awarded contracts on various projects to link Kabul with Balochistan near Iranian border; and in the bargain it makes the job of the Indian intelligence agency RAW easier.
Last month Indian government formally offered political asylum to secessionist Baloch leaders. The Zee News of India reported that the media is buzz with reports that Brahumdagh Bugti, grandson of Nawaz Akbar Khan Bugti, is set to get Indian citizenship. He is currently living in exile in Switzerland.
Balochistan is a key region for China's ambitious $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor infrastructure project linking its western province of Xinjiang to the Arabian Sea via Pakistan.
Security problems have mired CPEC in the past with numerous separatist attacks, but China has said it is confident the Pakistani military is in control.
18 Indian soldiers killed in an army base attack
The Quetta terrorist attack came five weeks after a militants attack on an army base in the garrison town of Uri in the Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir -- killing 18 soldiers. The attack on Sept 18, which took place near the de facto border between India and Pakistan in the disputed region, was one of the deadliest on an army base in Kashmir since militant attacks began in 1989, according to CNN.
Tension remains high between the neighbors following the Uri attack. The Indian Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, has been under intense pressure from his own party and the Indian public to respond to the Uri army base attack. Mr Modi came to power pledging to toughen India's response to what he calls cross-border incursions from Pakistan. He vowed that the Uri raid "will not go unpunished".
On September 29, India announced that it had carried out early morning "surgical strikes" on terrorist camps in Pakistani controlled Kashmir. However, Pakistan denied that a cross border strike had taken place, saying that Indian troops had fired small arms across the Line of Control, killing two soldiers and injuring nine. The notion of surgical strike linked to alleged terrorists' bases is an illusion being deliberately generated by India to create false effects," the Pakistani military said in a statement.