A suicide bomber in Pakistan killed at least 70 people and wounded more than a hundred on Monday in an attack on mourners gathered at a hospital in Quetta, according to officials in the southwestern province of Baluchistan.
The bomber struck as a crowd of mostly lawyers and journalists crammed into the emergency department to accompany the body of a prominent lawyer who had been shot and killed in the city earlier in the day, Faridullah, a reporter who was among the wounded, told Reuters.
Abdul Rehman Miankhel, a senior official at the government-run Civil Hospital, where the explosion occurred, told reporters that at least 70 people had been killed, with more than 112 wounded, as the casualty toll spiked from initial estimates.”There are many wounded, so the death toll could rise,” said Rehmat Saleh Baloch, the provincial health minister.
Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, a faction of the Islamist militant Pakistani Taliban group, claimed responsibility for the attack in an email.It was not immediately clear if the group had carried out the bombing, as it is believed to have claimed responsibility for attacks in the past that it was not involved in.
“The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaat-ur-Ahrar (TTP-JA) takes responsibility for this attack, and pledges to continue carrying out such attacks,” said spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan in the statement.
Only last week, Jamaat was added to the United States’ list of global terrorists, triggering sanctions.Television footage showed scenes of chaos at the hospital in Quetta, with panicked people fleeing through debris as smoke filled the hospital corridors.Bodies lay strewn across a hospital courtyard shortly after the blast and pools of blood collected as emergency rescuers rushed to identify survivors.