At least 59 people were killed and 118 injured when militants attacked a police training academy in Quetta, Pakistan, late Monday night, government officials said.
Major General Sher Afgan, Chief of the Paramilitary Frontier Corps, told reporters Tuesday that Pakistan-based group Lashkar-e-jhangvi was behind the attack — an al Qaeda-linked militant group that has repeatedly carried out deadly attacks on the country’s Shiite Muslim minority in recent years.
One attacker was killed by security forces; two others died when they detonated bombs they were carrying, said Sarfraz Bugti, Home Minister for Balochistan province, where Quetta is located. He added the assault ended in the early hours of Tuesday.
The attackers targeted a hostel at the academy where as many as 700 police cadets live. Two hundred cadets were rescued Monday night, Bugti said.
Five or six “terrorists entered the training school and (went) straight to the hostel where they took cadets hostage,” the Pakistani army said in a statement.
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi is known for targeting Shiites in Sunni-majority Pakistan, including a series of bombings in early 2013 that left more than 160 people dead in Balochistan province.
Last year, the then head of the group, Malik Ishaq, was killed during a shootout after armed men on motorcycles ambushed a police convoy that was transporting him between prisons in Punjab province.
Laskhar-e Jhangvi also claimed responsibility for a January 2014 bombing of a bus carrying Shiite pilgrims that killed more than 20 people.
The group was outlawed in Pakistan in 2001 and designated a terrorist organization by the US State Department in 2003.
Quetta is the capital of Balochistan, a province long-plagued by violence.
In August of this year, the city saw one of the deadliest attacks Pakistan has ever seen when prominent lawyer, and president of the Balochistan Bar Association, Bilal Kasi, was murdered by gunmen.
Hours later, more than 72 people were killed in a bombing at a hospital where his body was taken.
“No one will be allowed to disturb peace in the province that has been restored due to countless sacrifices of security forces, police and the people of Balochistan,” Pakistan’s Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif said at the time.
The prime minister also said in a statement that he had directed authorities to “maintain utmost vigilance.”