Pakistani Taliban Kills At Least 70 in Attack on Quetta Hospital

In a statement issued by his spokesperson, Ban said the targeting of mourners at the Civil Hospital in Quetta makes the attack "particularly appalling".

Sri Lanka has condemned today's terrorist bombing at the Civil Hospital in Quetta in the Baluchistan province of Pakistan, that killed at least 70 people and injured scores. It is unusual for the Pakistani Taliban factions to attack the city, which is outside of the tribal areas, and also hosts the "Quetta Shura", a leadership body for the Afghan Taliban insurgency. "Thoughts and prayers with victims, and families and friends of those affected", Sri Lanka's Foreign Affairs Ministry said on its official Twitter handle.

The attack happened after many lawyers and journalists had gathered at the hospital following the death of prominent lawyer Bilal Kasi, who had been killed in a shooting earlier in the day.

The Pakistani Taliban, which works closely with al Qaeda, has been at war with Pakistan's government since 2007, but has split into factions in the face of a counter-terror campaign by Islamabad.

The president of Pakistan's Supreme Court Bar Association, Syed Ali Zafa, called the assault "an attack on justice". The group has been behind several attacks in Pakistan in recent years.

Though it remained unclear who was behind Monday's attack, lawyers have been targeted in the past by militants in various parts of Pakistan.

Sarfraz Bugti, the provincial interior minister, denounced the attack as an "act of terrorism".

The president of the Quetta Press Club told the wire service that two journalists were also killed.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the bomb attack, and ordered increased security in Balochistan.

Mr Sharif expressed his "deep grief and anguish", adding: "No-one will be allowed to disturb the peace of the province". Sharif asked the local authorities to maintain utmost vigilance and beef up security in Quetta.

The body of Kasi, who was the Balochistan Bar Association president, had been brought to the hospital following the shooting - prompting many fellow lawyers and members of the media to also converge there. He says the blast was so powerful that they both fell down. But he said he didn't know he would "see the bodies of dozens of other lawyers" killed and wounded shortly after arriving.

They are considered an important part of civil society and have played a key role in advancing the cause of democracy. Lawyers launched nationwide protests to pressure Musharraf to reinstate Chaudhry.

  • Jon Douglas