At least 60 killed as death toll rises in Pakistan hospital bomb attack

At least 60 killed as death toll rises in Pakistan hospital bomb attack

At least 60 killed as death toll rises in Pakistan hospital bomb attack

Written by Staff Writer

08 Aug, 2016 | 4:46 pm

A bomb at a hospital in Pakistan’s south-western city of Quetta on Monday (August 8) killed at least 60 people and wounded more than 50, the provincial health minister said, significantly raising the casualty toll from initial estimates.

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 frontier city earlier on Monday, an eyewitness said.

More than 100 mourners were entering the emergency department of the hospital to accompany Kasi’s body when the bomb went off, Faridullah, a journalist who was at the scene, told Reuters.

Other witnesses described scenes of chaos.

“I was coming for my shift at the office. As soon as I reached the gate, there was a blast, and people came running out. I left my bike there, and as I entered, I saw dead bodies scattered all over the place. There was blood all over, and injured people covered in blood,” said hospital worker.

At least 45 people were killed, with more than 50 wounded, said Rehmat Saleh Baloch, the provincial health minister.

He said there were many wounded, so the death toll could rise.

The motive behind the attack was unclear and no group had yet claimed responsibility.

Anwar ul Haq Kakar, a spokesman for the Baluchistan government, said that the blast was a suicide bombing.

He said it seemed that it was a pre-planned attack, indicating that the attackers intended to target those accompanying Kasi’s body.

Television footage from the site showed scenes of chaos, with panicked mourners fleeing through debris as smoke filled the corridors of the hospital’s emergency ward. Kasi was shot and killed while on his way to the main court complex in Quetta, senior police official Nadeem Shah told Reuters.

Police cordoned off the hospital following the blast, restricting access to the area.

Shahzad Khan, a cameraman for a local television news channel, was among those killed.

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.

Quetta has also long been a base for the Afghan Taliban, whose leadership has regularly held meetings there in the past. In May, Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Mansour was killed by a U.S. drone strike while travelling to Quetta from the Pakistan-Iran border.

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