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At least 70 dead in Quetta, Pakistan, hospital suicide bombing

The current and former president of the local bar association were shot prior to the bomb blast.

By Ed Adamczyk
At least 70 dead in Quetta, Pakistan, hospital suicide bombing
At least 53 people died, and 56 were injured, in a bomb explosion Monday at a Quetta, Pakistan, hospital. Photo by Ajmalahmedkhan/Wikipedia

QUETTA, Pakistan, Aug. 8 (UPI) -- An explosion at a Quetta, Pakistan, hospital Monday killed at least 70 people, many arriving at the facility after two prominent lawyers were shot and killed.

At least 100 more were injured, some critically. Officials said there was gunfire at the hospital after the explosion.

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Quetta is the capital of Baluchistan province, which borders Afghanistan and Iran, and has seen separatist and sectarian violence for more than a decade.

Pakistani police said the bomb at the emergency department of Quetta's Civil Hospital was set off by a suicide bomber. Eight kilograms of explosives were used, they added. Balochistan's provincial chief minister, Sanuallah Zehri, immediately blamed the Indian government's intelligence agency's Research and Analysis Wing for the attack, but the Islamic State later announced its responsibility.

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The bomb exploded as Balochistan Bar Association President Bilal Kasi and his predecessor, Baz Muhammad Kakar, arrived at the hospital after they were shot by unknown assailants. Many of those injured in the bombing were lawyers and journalists who went to the hospital after learning of the attack on Kasi and Kakar. Among those who died were two cameramen working for Pakistan's Aaj News and Dawn News. In recent weeks Kasi had been critical of targeted killings by a local separatist group and last week announced a two-day boycott of court sessions to protest the killing of a colleague.

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Pakistan's Supreme Court Bar Association, in condemning the attack, announced a one-week mourning period, and Lahore High Court lawyers scheduled a protest demonstration for later Monday. Quetta has recently been the site of several similar bombings. In May, an explosion at the entrance of Balochistan University killed two people and injured five.

Kasi died before he arrived at the hospital, and Kakar died in the explosion. At least 18 of those who died in the hospital attack were members of Quetta's legal profession, officials said.

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