Bomb targeting mourners at Pakistan hospital kills at least 45

By Reuters/Gul Yousafzai   August 8, 2016 | 04:04 pm GMT+7
Bomb targeting mourners at Pakistan hospital kills at least 45
First responders and volunteers transport the injured and dead away from the scene of a bomb blast outside a hospital in Quetta, Pakistan August 8, 2016. Photo by Reuters/Naseer Ahmed

The bomb exploded as 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.

A bomb at a hospital in Pakistan's southwestern city of Quetta on Monday killed 45 people and wounded more than 50, the provincial health minister said, significantly raising the casualty toll from initial estimates.

"There are many wounded, so the death toll could rise," said Rehmat Saleh Baloch, health minister for Baluchistan province. A bomb blast at a Pakistani hospital killed at least 30 people and wounded dozens on Monday in Quetta, the capital of the violence-plagued southwestern province of Baluchistan, police said.

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 50 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.

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

bomb-targeting-mourners-at-pakistan-hospital-kills-at-least-45

Friends and relatives of victims grieve at the scene of a bomb blast outside a hospital in Quetta, Pakistan August 8, 2016. Photo by Reuters/Naseer Ahmed 

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.

Baluchistan's Home Minister Sarfraz Bugti said earlier at least 10 people were killed and 30 wounded.

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.

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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