Carnage as Pakistan hospital bomb kills 70
Pakistani lawyers mourn the deaths of their colleagues following a bomb blast in Quetta, Pakistan, Monday, Aug. 8, 2016. AP photoA suicide bomb packed with ball bearings tore through a Pakistani hospital Aug. 8 and killed at least 70 people, as witnesses described tearful staff rushing towards the smoking blast site to help the wounded.
The bomber struck a crowd of some 200 people gathered at the Civil Hospital in the Balochistan provincial capital Quetta after the fatal shooting of a senior local lawyer earlier in the day. More than 100 were wounded, officials said, according to AFP.
Video footage showed bodies strewn on the ground, some still smoking, among pools of blood and shattered glass as shocked survivors cried and comforted one another.
Many of the victims were clad in the black suits and ties traditionally worn by Pakistani lawyers.
Police confirmed the attack was a suicide blast.
“The bomber had strapped some eight kilograms of explosives packed with ball bearings and shrapnel on his body,” bomb disposal unit chief Abdul Razzaq told AFP.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for either the blast or the shooting of the lawyer. But militant groups in the province routinely target security forces and government installations.
Balochistan, which borders Iran and Afghanistan, has major oil and gas resources but is afflicted by Islamist militancy, sectarian violence between Sunni and Shiite Muslims and a separatist insurgency.
“The death toll has risen to 70 and there are 112 injured,” the head of the provincial health department, Dr Masood Nausherwani, told reporters.
The crowd, mainly lawyers and journalists, had gone to the hospital after the death of the president of the Balochistan Bar Association in a shooting earlier Aug. 7, said provincial home secretary Akbar Harifal.
Bilal Anwar Kasi was targeted by two unidentified gunmen as he left his home for work.
An AFP journalist was about 20 meters away when the bomb went off.
“There were huge black clouds and dirt,” he said. “I ran back to the place and saw dead bodies scattered everywhere and many injured people crying. There were pools and pools of blood around and pieces of human bodies and flesh.”
Nurses and lawyers wept as medics from inside the hospital rushed out to help dozens of injured, he said.
“People were beating their heads, crying and mourning. They were in shock and grief.”
Pervez Masi, who was injured by pieces of flying glass, said the blast was so powerful that “we didn’t know what had happened.”
“So many friends were martyred,” he said. “Whoever is doing this is not human, he is a beast and has no humanity.”
The blast is the second deadliest in Pakistan so far this year, after a bombing in a crowded park in Lahore over Easter killed 75.