On October 24, 2016, a group of armed militants stormed and attacked Balochistan Police College (BPC), in Quetta, killing at least 61 people and injuring at least 120.
At approximately 11:20 PM, three gunmen wearing suicide vests reportedly approached BPC. Two of the gunmen entered through the college’s front gate, killing two guards on duty, while the third entered by scaling a rear wall. The three assailants then ran toward student residence halls where they entered, opened fire and threw grenades. Shortly thereafter, police, army soldiers, and special services commandos arrived on the scene and, over several hours, exchanged gunfire with the militants before clearing the campus. Two of the assailants detonated their vests during the attack; the third was shot by security forces before he could detonate his vest.
Immediately following the attack, Pakistani state officials alleged that a Taliban affiliate known as Lashkar-e-Jhangvi was responsible. However, Islamic State (ISIS) officials publicly claimed responsibility for the attack just hours later. An investigation into these claims is ongoing. As of this report at least 61 people were killed and another 120 injured, with most casualties being students from BPC.
Scholars at Risk condemns this extreme, targeted, violent attack on the higher education space, and sends condolences to the victims, their families and the Balochistan Police College community. In addition to the terrible loss of life and injuries, such attacks target the core values of higher education, including academic freedom, the free exchange of ideas, institutional autonomy, and social responsibility. State authorities have a responsibility to safeguard these values by taking all reasonable steps to ensure the security of higher education communities and their members, including a responsibility to deter future attacks by investigating incidents and making every effort to hold perpetrators accountable, consistent with internationally recognized standards. Members of society similarly have a responsibility to help safeguard the higher education space, especially following incidents of such gross violence, by pressing demands to State authorities for greater protection and accountability, and by contributing to efforts to understand and reinforce principles of autonomy and academic freedom.