A suicide bomber killed at least 70 people and wounded more than a hundred in Quetta, Pakistan, on Monday.
“There are many wounded, so the death toll could rise,” said Rehmat Saleh Baloch, the provincial health minister, to Reuters.
Many of those killed were lawyers who had gathered at the hospital “after the body of their colleague, prominent attorney Bilal Kasi was brought there,” Associated Press (AP) reports.
“As they protested [Kasi’s] killing,” the New York Times writes, “a powerful blast ripped through the entrance to the hospital’s emergency department, leading to widespread panic. Television footage showed scores of lawyers running for cover as gunfire echoed in the background.”
The Times described the chaotic scene:
AP notes that “Kasi, the chief of the province’s bar association, was shot and killed by gunmen earlier on Monday as he was on his way to his office,” adding:
The president of the Quetta Press Club told the wire service that two journalists were also killed.
Anwar Kakar, the official spokesman for the government of Baluchistan, told NBC: “This doesn’t look like the action of insurgent separatists, rather religious extremists. Their only cause is to create fear. Not fear of God. Just fear of living.”
A “breakaway faction” of the Taliban in Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack, according to AP:
The New York Times provided context for the violence, noting that “Quetta is the capital of Baluchistan, a province bordering Afghanistan and Iran that has experienced separatist and sectarian violence for more than a decade, posing a challenge to successive Pakistani governments. Most of the violence in Quetta has been sectarian in nature, mainly directed toward the Hazaras, a Shiite Muslim minority.”
AP reports: “Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned the blast and expressed his ‘deep grief and anguish over the loss of precious human lives’ in the attack.”
“The Pakistani Bar Association said lawyers across the country would hold a one-day strike on Tuesday and would spend a week in mourning,” adds the New York Times.
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