Pakistani lawyers strike after hospital bombing kills colleagues

QUETTA, Pakistan, Aug. 9 (UPI) — Lawyers across Pakistan went on a three-day strike Tuesday to protest the killing of some of their colleagues in a hospital bombing.

The Supreme Court Bar Association also announced one week of mourning Monday.

A bomb ripped through Civil Hospital in Quetta on Monday, where about 200 lawyers and journalists had gathered to mourn their colleague, who was shot dead earlier that day. The attack killed at least 70 and injured more than 100, officials said.

“The federal and provincial governments of Pakistan have miserably failed to protect the life and liberty of the citizens of Pakistan, in particular lawyers,” said a statement from the Pakistan Bar Council. The heads of the government and security agencies/law enforcement agencies are called upon to take appropriate steps so as to protect the life and liberty of citizens of Pakistan, in particular lawyers.”

Schools, universities and businesses in the province also were closed Tuesday. Flags on government buildings flew at half staff in major cities of Pakistan, including Quetta.

Lawyers’ groups conducted protest rallies in several cities.

“This is a sad, shameful and brutal attack, and it shows the weakness of these people who targeted a hospital,” Ashtar Ausaf Ali, Pakistan’s attorney general, told The Wall Street Journal at a gathering in Islamabad. “What kind of weak and despicable people are they, targeting a hospital where there are children and patients?”

Two terrorist groups have claimed responsibility for the attack: a Pakistani Taliban faction — Jamaat ul Ahrar — and the Islamic State. Neither group has revealed why lawyers were targeted.

Jamaat ul Ahrar also claimed responsibility for a bombing in a crowded Lahore park during Easter that killed 75.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif vowed Tuesday to fight terrorism in Pakistan. “We are in a state of war with an ideology that wants to change our way of life,” Sharif said in a statement released by his office after a meeting on national security.

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