QUETTA / ISLAMABAD: At least 53 people killed and over 50 others were injured when a bomb exploded in Civil Hospital Quetta on Monday.
The blast, followed by firing was heard after president of Balochistan Bar Association Advocate Bilal Anwar Kasi was shot dead by unidentified assailants in Quetta.
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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.
A heavy contingent of Frontier Corps and police arrived and cordoned off the hospital following the blast, restricting access to the area. According to police and rescue officials,
Kasi was targeted by two unidentified gunmen who opened fire on his car near Quetta’s Mengal Chowk on Mannu Jan road. The bar association president was shifted to Civil Hospital, where he succumbed to injuries.
The subsequent suicide attack appeared to target his mourners, Anwar ul Haq Kakar, a spokesperson for the Balochistan government, said. “It seems it was a pre-planned attack,” he said.
More than 50 mourners, including lawyers and journalists were entering the emergency department of the hospital, accompanying Kasi’s body, when the bomb went off, Faridullah, a journalist who was at the scene, told Reuters.
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Several lawyers were reported injured in the explosion and aerial firing could still be heard near the hospital’s emergency’s ward. Meanwhile, former Balochistan Bar Association president Advocate Baz Muhammad Kakar succumbed to injuries.
According to reports, Aaj TV journalist Shehzad Ahmed was also killed in the blast, while Dawn News cameraman was critically injured. Following the incident, emergency has been declared in hospitals across Quetta.
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 stronghold of the Afghan Taliban. The motive behind Monday’s attacks, however, was unclear.
Army chief General Raheel Sharif arrived in Quetta and visited civil hospital where he inquired about the health of the injured, and was briefed about the deadly incident. Meanwhile, PM Nawaz is scheduled to arrive in Quetta shortly.
President Mamnoon, PM Nawaz strongly condemn Quetta blast
President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned the blast, Radio Pakistan reported.
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Deploring the loss of precious lives in the incident, PM Nawaz directed concerned authorities to maintain utmost vigilance and beef up security for the legal fraternity and members of civil society.
The premier said, “No one will be allowed to disturb peace in the province that has been restored due to countless sacrifices of security forces, police and the people of Balochistan.”
President Mamoon and PM Nawaz directed for provision of best treatment to those injured in the attack. Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan has also condemned the blast.
RAW behind Quetta attack, claims Balochistan CM
Meanwhile, Balochistan Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri has claimed that Monday’s attack was carried out by RAW, the Indian premier spy agency.
“I have the evidence of RAW’s involvement in Quetta’s attack which I will share with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and the foreign ministry,” Zehri said while speaking with the Express News.
The chief minister said he has, at times, provided evidences of Indian involvement in stoking unrest in the province. Besides ordering an inquiry the chief minister also announced three-day mourning in wake of the Quetta blast.
Commander southern command inquires after injured
Commander Southern Command Lt-Gen Amir Riaz visited the civil hospital and inquired after the injured. He also directed the authorities concerned to provide best medical facilities to those injured in the blast.
PBC calls for nationwide strike, one week of mourning
Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) on Monday called for a nationwide strike on August 9 and one week of mourning after the attack which left over people, including president of Balochistan Bar Association, dead.
PBC’s vice-chairman Dr Muhammad Farogh Naseem and chairman executive committee Abdul Fayaz strongly condemned the assassination of Kasi and the blast in Civil Hospital. They appealed the lawyers to observe a country-wide strike tomorrow i.e. Tuesday August 9 and one week of morning.
“The lawyers, while observing the strike and mourning, will hold protest meetings in their bar rooms and wear black bands to condemn the tragic incident,” a statement said.
CJP condemns Quetta attack
Chief Justice of Pakistan Justice Anwar Zaheer Jamali has strongly condemned Kasi’s assassination and the bomb blast at Civil Hospital that claimed lives of innocent lawyers and other citizens besides causing injuries to many people, a statement said.
The CJP offered his heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and prayed for speedy recovery to the injured. He further hoped that the federal and provincial governments would leave no stone unturned to provide justice to the affected families.