At least 70 people killed in blast and scores wounded as suicide bomber targets gathering of lawyers in emergency room.
QUETTA (Pakistan) – A suicide bomber killed at least 70 people and wounded dozens in an attack that struck a gathering of Pakistani lawyers on the grounds of a government-run hospital in the southwestern city of Quetta on Monday, police and doctors said.
The bomber struck as more than 100 mourners, mostly lawyers and journalists, crowded into the emergency department to accompany the body of a prominent lawyer who had been shot and killed in the city earlier in the day, Faridullah, a journalist who was among the wounded, told Reuters.
Witnesses described horrifying scenes of bodies being scattered about and the wounded screaming out and crying for help. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast.
Abdul Rehman Miankhel, a senior official at the government-run Civil Hospital, where the explosion occurred, told reporters that at least 63 people had been killed, with more than 50 wounded, as the casualty toll spiked from initial estimates.
Balochistan Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti said: “The blast occurred after a number of lawyers and some journalists had gathered at the hospital following the death of the president of the Balochistan Bar Association in a separate shooting incident early this morning.”
“The attack took place at the main gate to the emergency area,” said Al Jazeera’s Kamal Hyder, reporting from Islamabad.
“Importantly, this happened after the president of the Quetta bar was gunned down,” he said. “There are big questions after this security lapse. There is a very heavy death toll and most killed today are people belonging to the legal fraternity.”
Pakistani media said that journalists were among those wounded, with at least two cameramen killed. Aaj TV’s camerman Shehzad Khan and cameraman of Dawn News Mehmood Khan were among those killed in Quetta blast.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the loss of precious life and ordered the provincial report to arrest the culprits. The premier said 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.
Army chief General Raheel Sharif arrived at the Civil Hospital Quetta soon after the tragic incident and inquired after the injured victims of Quetta blast.
The army chief also directed the authorities concerned to provide best medical care to those admitted at the hospital. “COAS visited Balochistan High Court and offered condolences to chief justice Balochistan and the panel of judges,” Director General Inter-Service Public Relations Lt-Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa tweeted.