A bomb blast has left at least 53 people dead and dozens wounded in the city of Quetta in Pakistan, reports CNN. According to initial reports, the bomb blast took place at a civil hospital in the southwestern province of Balochistan. A group of 100 people comprising of lawyers and journalists were present in the emergency ward of the hospital where the dead body of Bilal Anwar Kasi, President of the Balochistan Bar Association, was brought in. Initial reports suggest that the blast left at least 45 dead. The death toll rose to 53 an hour later.
The explosion took place while lawyers, clad in black suit and tie, were present in the emergency ward of the hospital to mourn the loss of Kasi. Following the bomb blast, people started running in panic in the hospital compound.
The most among the dead were lawyers who had accompanied the body of the prominent lawyer, said Zahoor Ahmed Afridi, a senior police official. A few journalists and cameramen were also present at the civil hospital when the bombing took place.
— Farhan Mallick (@FGMallick) August 8, 2016
Before the bomb blast struck, Kasi was gunned down by a few armed men earlier today in a separate incident. He was later rushed to the civil hospital in the city of Quetta, but died because of his injuries. It remains unclear if both events were in any way connected.
Sanaullah Zehri, Balochistan’s Chief Minister, believes that the bombing appears to be a suicide attack, but the local police are still investigating the matter, and he will be personally involved. No militant group has stepped forward to claim responsibility for the bomb blast or the shooting of Kasi.
Balochistan’s interior minister, Sarfraz Bugti, berated the bomb blast as an “act of terrorism” and deemed the incident as a security lapse, reported Dawn.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed deep grief and anguish over the death of several people, which included senior lawyers, reported The Guardian. He instructed the health officials to give the best treatment and care possible to the injured.
“No one will be allowed to disturb the peace in the province that has been restored thanks to the countless sacrifices of the security forces, police and the people of Balochistan.”
The social media is being crowded with tweets condemning the bomb blast in Quetta’s hospital. A few such updates are embedded below.
Pakistani TV cameraman Shehzad Khan was one of those killed in a suicide attack today in the city of Quetta pic.twitter.com/KYmbELRZmM
– omar r quraishi (@omar_quraishi) August 8, 2016
Pakistan’s senior politicians also shared their contempt against the deplorable attack on social media.
One cannot even imagine anyone stooping as low as to target a hospital… Only those bereft of humanity can do that…
– Shehbaz Sharif (@CMShehbaz) August 8, 2016
Condemnable cowardly terrorists strike Quetta targeting bar president then civil hospital. Even in war hospitals not delib targeted.
– Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) August 8, 2016
Update: The latest reports state that the death toll is now 70. Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Army Chief Gen. Raheel Sharif paid a visit to the victims at the hospital and expressed their solidarity. Russian President Vladimir Putin condemned the bombing in a statement and also offered assistance to Pakistan in fighting terrorism, reported Sputnik News.
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a Pakistani Taliban faction, claimed the responsibility for the bomb blast at the hospital in Quetta via an email, according to Al Jazeera. The militant group also claimed of shooting down Bilal Anwar Kasi, President of Balochistan’s Bar Association while he was on his way to the court. In March, the same militant group had orchestrated a bomb blast targeting Christians on the eve of Easter in the city of Lahore, reported the Inquisitr.
[Photo by Arshad Butt/AP Images]