At least 53 dead in Quetta, Pakistan, hospital suicide bombing

QUETTA, Pakistan, Aug. 8 (UPI) — An explosion at a Quetta, Pakistan, hospital Monday killed at least 53 people, many arriving at the hospital after two prominent lawyers were shot and killed.

At least 56 more were injured, officials said, adding that gunfire at the hospital followed the explosion.

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 suspect the bomb at the emergency department of Quetta’s Civil Hospital was set off by a suicide bomber. While it was unclear who attacked the hospital, Balochistan’s provincial chief minister, Sanuallah Zehri, blamed the Indian government’s intelligence agency’s Research and Analysis Wing.

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. 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.

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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