Pakistan army and frontier constabulary troops were called in as the terrorists entered the hostel facility. Photograph: (AFP)
Two of the attackers reportedly blew themselves up to avoid being captured, the third was killed in a gun battle with security forces
A militant attack on a police training academy in Pakistan's western city of Quetta has left at least 61 people dead, international news agency AFP reported.
Pakistan on Tuesday mourned the killing of the people in the deadliest attack on a security installation in the country`s history.
The home minister of Balochistan province, Sarfaraz Bugti, said the attack – which began last night at 11.30 pm local time on Monday – was carried out by three militants and not six as was previously estimated by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).
Bugti said two of the three gunmen blew themselves up to avoid being captured and that the third militant was killed in a gunfight with Pakistani security forces.
Bugti had previously pegged the death toll at 44, but rescue officials updated the figure to at least 59.
The attackers are believed to have been affiliated to the Lashkar-e-Jhangvi Al Almi militant group, an offshoot of the Pakistani Taliban, senior Pakistan Army officer Sher Afghan told the Pakistani newspaper Dawn.
The militants had communicated with handlers in Afghanistan and had taken instructions from them, he added.
The attackers stormed the front gate of the Balochistan Police College, gunning down a policeman manning the only entrance to the academy.
There were some 700 police cadets on campus when the attack began.
Most of the injured, some of whom are in critical condition, have been admitted to three diferent hospitals in Quetta — Civil Hospital, Bolan Medical College Hospital, and Military Hospital.
Bugti said a Frontier Corps official and a captain were among the injured.
"Security forces, including the Frontier Corps and the Pakistan Army light brigade, have cleared 95 per cent of the college area," Bugti said, when asked about the combing operation that got under way after the gunmen were dead.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned the attack on the training centre and directed provincial and federal authorities to crack down on the perpetrators.
The police training centre is considered one of the most sensitive areas of Quetta, the capital city of Balochistan province. It has previously come under attack in 2006 and 2008. In 2006, attackers had fired rockets into the college courtyard.
Meanwhile, the United States also extended its condolences. "We stand with the people of Pakistan and government of Pakistan at this difficult hour, and we will continue to work with our partners in Pakistan and across the region to combat the threat of terrorism," State Department spokesperson John Kirby said.
(WION with inputs from agencies)