by Misbah Saba Malik
ISLAMABAD, Oct. 25 (Xinhua) -- Salar Bugti, 24, joined police training institute of Pakistan's southwest Quetta city last year to earn bread and butter for his wife and one-year-old son, but was killed in a deadly attack by three suicide bombers at his hostel late Monday.
"Salar called me after 10 p.m. last night he could hardly speak out of fear. He told me it may be his last call because militants have entered his hostel and were killing his colleagues," Salar's brother Shabbir said in an interview with local media Tuesday.
"I could hear gunshots in the background. I wanted to save my brother but both of us were helpless. He was sure about his death and I was praying for some miracle to happen and save him," Shabbir added.
Salar was not the only cadet who was killed at the police center. There were 200 others who were held hostage and 60 were later killed by the militants.
One of the hostel residents who asked to remain anonymous told Xinhua that some of the cadets were strolling in the corridors and others were sleeping in the rooms after having dinner when they heard gunshots outside the hostel building at about 11:05 p.m. local time Monday.
He said that the cadets rushed to hide in the washrooms or under the beds after hearing the gunshots, but one of their colleagues said that they should lock the main gate of their compound to prevent the attackers from entering it.
"We locked the main gate and put heavy wooden beds in front of it and rushed upstairs from where we saw three armed men rushing towards our hostel," he said.
"There are three hostel compounds in the police academy and when the attackers failed to open the main gate of our hostel, they went to the other and a few minutes later we heard gun fires and screams of the cadets", a trainee at the police training center said.
Mir Sarfraz Bugti, the interior minister of the Balochistan Province with Quetta as the capital, said that the attackers killed a sentry of the hostel's watchtower in an exchange of fire and sneaked into one of the compounds.
He said that there were 700 cadets in the three compounds of the hostel out of which 250 were held hostage by the militants while others managed to flee.
Another cadet, Arif, 24, told local media that the militants knocked at their room telling them that they are from army and came there to rescue them, and when they opened the door they opened fire at them.
He said that his friends were killed but he managed to escape by hiding under the bed. Some of the cadets managed to flee from the hostel during the attack by climbing at the roof and jumping out of the windows.
One of the trainees Khalid Khan said that he saved his life by escaping from the roof of the hostel.
"We were sleeping in our room when we heard firing, we rushed out, I saw two terrorists were firing at another room, I ran to the roof of the hostel and from there I managed to come out," Khalid told local media.
He said that some other recruits also tried to save their lives by climbing up the trees and jumping out of the windows.
Soon after the attack, the security forces reached the training center for clearance operation.
Upon the arrival of the forces one of the bombers entered inside one of the big halls in which there were a large number of recruits, and blew himself up.
Major General Sher Afgun, the chief of Frontier Corps (FC), said that when forces reached at the center one of the bombers already blew up himself while the second one was shot dead by them and the third one also exploded his vest upon being cornered.
He said that the operation continued for three hours, adding that army helicopters were also used for surveillance during the operation.
Afgun said that an FC captain who was among the first people to enter the hostel was also killed in the suicide bombing.
Eyewitnesses said that first they saw ambulances kept on bringing in injured people and bodies, and there was blood everywhere in the emergency department of a hospital.
They said that later they saw the victims' families rushing to the hospital and asking about their relatives.
"The hospital was so crowded and people were running here and there asking police and nurses about their relatives. When some ambulance came everyone rushed towards it to find their relatives inside it", an eyewitness at the hospital told Xinhua.
The country's Army chief Raheel Sharif, accompanied by other senior army officers, flew to Quetta and attended the funeral prayers of the cadets who belonged to different districts of the province.
Militant group Islamic State (IS) claimed responsibility for the attack.
The group's Al-Amaq news agency stated that three IS fighters used machine guns and grenades and later blew up their explosive vests in the crowd during the attack at the police training center.
The country's President Mamnoon Hussain, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, Chief Ministers of all four provinces and leaders of political parties condemned the deadly attack and extended condolences to the bereaved families.
The U.S. State Department also condemned the attack and said they will continue working with Pakistan to eliminate terrorism.
Talking to media, 23-year-old cadet Hamza said that they were being trained to save their country from internal attacks and they are determined to do it wholeheartedly after completing their training.
"We are not afraid of militants, if we had weapons we did not let the attackers enter the hostel and butcher our friends ruthlessly. After passing out and joining the work we will work to eradicate militancy from our region," Hamza vowed.