Pakistani Taliban kill 70 in hospital attack
PAKISTANI Taliban faction has claimed responsibility for the suicide attack at the emergency department of a hospital in Pakistan’s Quetta that left at least 70 people dead.
Yesteray’s attack targeted a group of mourning lawyers, who were gathered to accompany the body of a murdered colleague.
“The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaat-ur-Ahrar takes responsibility for this attack, and pledges to continue carrying out such attacks. We will release a video report on this soon,” the group’s spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said in an email. Many of the dead appeared to be wearing black suits and ties. 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 Bilal Anwar Kasi, the president of the Balochistan Bar Association, in a separate shooting incident early this morning.”
The lawyers were at the unit because earlier in the day armed men, who are still unidentified, had shot Bilal Anwar Kasi, reports said.
Kasi, who later died from his injuries, was the former president of the Balochistan Bar Association. He had been on his way to work when he was attacked.
Several people were wounded as they rushed to leave the hospital, Dawn reported.
Pakistani media said that journalists were among the victims, with at least two cameramen killed. One cameraman was named by local media as Aaj TV’s Shehzad Khan.
The other was Mehmood Khan of Dawn. His colleague Sumaira Jajja wrote on Twitter that Khan, a father of seven children, started out as a security guard before joining Dawn as an officer worker to then become a cameraman. He had planned to do a master’s degree in journalism.
Balochistan, which borders Iran and Afghanistan, has oil and gas resources and is afflicted by fighting, violence between Sunni and Shia Muslims, and a separatist rebellion.
“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.”
Hyder said an attack took place at the same hospital in 2010. — Al Jazeera