Pakistan was in mourning on Tuesday, a day after at least 60 people were killed and more than 100 wounded when gunmen wearing suicide vests stormed a Pakistani police training academy in the southwestern city of Quetta and took hostages.
More than 200 police trainees were stationed at the facility when the attack occurred late on Monday (October 25), officials said. Some cadets were taken hostage during the attack, which lasted five hours. Most of the dead were police cadets.
“It is a sad occasion, a sad day for the entire of Pakistan. Another sad and painful incident took place last night in Quetta,” said Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan on Tuesday before offering prayers.
Militant group Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the assault, the deadliest in Pakistan since a suicide bomber killed 70 people in an attack on mourners gathered at a hospital in Quetta in August.
But Pakistani officials earlier said another Sunni extremist group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ), was probably behind the raid.
Security was tight in all major Pakistani cities, and people on the streets condemned the attack.
“Who are these foreign forces eating up our country like white ants? Now, it is the responsibility of our government to unveil them,” said an unidentified lawyer in Lahore.
Pakistan has improved its security situation in recent years but Islamist groups continue to pose a threat and stage major attacks in the mainly Muslim nation of 190 million.
Islamic State has sought to make inroads over the past year, hoping to exploit the country’s growing sectarian divisions.
LeJ, whose roots are in the heartland Punjab province, has a history of carrying out sectarian attacks in Baluchistan, particularly against the minority Hazara Shias. Pakistan has previously accused LeJ of colluding with al Qaeda.