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Pakistan closes university and hospital after fatal attacks

June 19, 2013 at 6:15 AM   |   Comments

ISLAMABAD, June 19 (UPI) -- Pakistani authorities have closed Sardar Bahadur Khan Women's University and Bolan Medical Complex in Quetta after terrorist attacks killed nearly 90 people.

The facilities will be closed until further notice as a precaution because of ongoing extreme violence in the southwest city of 900,000 in Balochistan province, the BBC reported.

The move follows attacks lasting more than 5 hours last weekend in which a terrorist bomb ripped through a packed university bus, killing 14 women students. Attackers then stormed the Bolan Hospital, where the dead and wounded were taken, killing 11 people including nurses, security staff and a senior city official.

An extremist Sunni group, Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, claimed responsibility for the attacks, the BBC reported.

Police said they haven't ruled out use of a woman as a suicide bomber on the bus, although women suicide bombers are rare in Pakistan. Police said they found the severed head of a woman at the scene of the bus attack, an indication the person might have been a suicide bomber, the BBC reported.

Four suspected terrorists were killed in the gun battle at the hospital and one suspect was arrested.

The bus and hospital attacks were in keeping with past terrorist attacks in Quetta, a city that observed a day of mourning after the attacks.

Quetta, the capital of Balochistan, sits along the so-called Durand Line, the frontier created during British colonial times and near Afghanistan's restive Kandahar province.

The city is an important trade route between the two countries and an important military base for Pakistan's army.

Quetta's Shiite Muslim minority often has been the target of terrorist attacks by other Islamic militant groups, including Laskar-e-Jhangvi.

The Long War Journal, supported by the Defense of Democracies, reported in August the al-Qaida-linked Lashkar-e-Jhangvi had published a video on Internet forums showing the beheading of two Shiites.

In a statement that accompanied the video on one of the forums, a jihadist said the Pakistani terrorist group is part of al-Qaida and the Taliban, LWJ reported.

The latest attacks also raised questions over the competencies of security authorities.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan condemned the attacks, lamented the general security situation in Balochistan and announced a meeting of civil armed forces Thursday.

Nisar said he would announce a security policy by the end of the month, GeoTV reported.

Internet news site Dawn.com reported recently elected Prime Minister Mian Nawaz Sharif soon would consult the heads of all political parties to seek opinions on a sustainable solution to deteriorating order in Balochistan.

Also last weekend, militants in Ziarat, a town about 3 hours from Quetta, blew up a historic building known as Jinnah's Residency, which was used by Pakistan's founding politician Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The government quickly announced the building would be rebuilt within three months, the Express Tribune reported.

© 2013 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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