QUETTA, Pakistan, Aug 8, (Agencies): A Taleban suicide bomb packed with ball bearings tore through a Pakistani hospital Monday 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.
Meanwhile, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah strongly condemned the terrorist attack. His Highness the Amir, in a cable to Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain, rejected all forms of terrorism and called upon the international community to double its efforts to tackle sources of terrorism financing.
His Highness the Amir extended deepest condolences to the families of the victims and wished speedy recovery for the injured. His Highness the Crown Prince Sheikh Nawaf Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah also sent a cable of condolences to the president over the victims of the terrorist attack. His Highness the Prime Minister Sheikh Jaber Mubarak Al-Hamad Al-Sabah sent a similar cable.
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. An AFP journalist was about 20 metres 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.” Police confirmed the attack was a suicide blast.
“The bomber had strapped some 8 kgs (18 pounds) of explosives packed with ball bearings and shrapnel on his body,” bomb disposal unit chief Abdul Razzaq told AFP. A faction of the Pakistani Taleban, Jamaat- ul-Ahrar, claimed responsibility for the blast and target killing of the lawyer, with a spokesman vowing more attacks “until the imposition of an Islamic system in Pakistan”.
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar has also said it was behind the deadliest attack in Pakistan so far this year, a bombing in a crowded Lahore park that killed 75 people on Easter Sunday. “The death toll has risen to 70 and there are 112 injured,” the head of the provincial health department, Dr Masood Nausherwani, told reporters Monday. Officials said mobile phone jammers had been activated around hospitals in the area — a regular precaution after an attack — making it hard to contact officers on the ground to get updated information.