Pakistan hospital bomb attack: Taliban faction claims responsibility

At least 64 killed and dozens wounded in suicide attack

Samuel Osborne
Monday 08 August 2016 14:55
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Dozens dead as bomb explodes at Pakistan hospital

A faction of the Pakistani Taliban has claimed responsibility for bombing a hospital in Quetta.

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for the suicide attack, which killed at least 64 people and wounded dozens.

In a statement, Ahsanullah Ahsan, spokesman for Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, also said their men killed Bilal Kasi, the president of Baluchistan Bar Association, and then targeted the mourners who had gathered at the government-run Civil Hospital.

The group has been behind several acts of terrorism in Pakistan in recent years. The claim could not be independently verified.

The bomb exploded as mourners, mostly lawyers and journalists, gathered to accompany the body of Bilal Anwar Kasi, a prominent lawyer, who was shot and killed in the city earlier on Monday.

More than 50 mourners were entering the emergency department of the hospital, accompanying Mr Kasi's body, when the bomb went off, Faridullah, a journalist who was at the scene, told Reuters.

Mr Kasi, the chief of the province's bar association, was shot and killed by gunemn earlier on Monday as he was on his way to his office.

He was among the most outspoken lawyers in the province and was popular for campaigning for improvements in the lawyers' community.

“It was a suicide attack,” said Zahoor Ahmed Afridi, a senior police officer said of the bombing.

Mr Afridi said the attacker hit shortly after Mr Kasi's body was brought in and that it seemed the two events were connected.

Noor Ahmed, the hospital's deputy chief surgeon for victims of violent crime, said they were treating about 50 wounded in the bombing.

Pakistani security officials and lawyers gather around the bodies of victims killed in a bomb explosion at a government hospital premises in Quetta on 8 August, 2016.

Targeted killings have become increasingly common in Quetta, the capital of a province that has seen rising violence linked to a separatist insurgency as well as sectarian tensions and rising crime.

Anwalullah Kakar, the government spokesman in southwestern Baluchistan province, said an investigation is underway. Sarfraz Bugti, the provincial interior minister, denounced the attack as an “act of terrorism.”

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned the blast in Quetta and expressed his “deep grief and anguish over the loss of precious human lives” in the attack, in which several senior lawyers were also killed.

“No one will be allowed to disturb the peace in the province that has been restored thanks to the countless sacrifices by the security forces, police and the people of Baluchistan,” he said in a statement. Sharif asked the local authorities to maintain utmost vigilance and beef up security in Quetta.

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