Pakistan mourns as bombs toll rises
on 11/01/2013 09:07:35
Five more of the victims wounded in the blast at a billiards hall in the south-western city of Quetta died overnight, taking the number killed in that attack to 86, Pakistani police said.
Late last night, a suicide attacker and car bomb hit the billiards venue in a Shiite area of Quetta, capital of Baluchistan province.
Another bombing struck paramilitary soldiers in the city, while an explosion in the north west targeted people at a mosque.
Pakistan's minority Shiite Muslims have increasingly been targeted by radical Sunnis who consider them heretics, and a militant Sunni group claimed the billiard hall attack.
It was one of the deadliest days in recent years for a country that is no stranger to violence from radical Islamists, militant separatists and criminal gangs.
Earlier in the day, a bomb targeting paramilitary soldiers in a commercial area in Quetta killed 12 people and wounded more than 40 others, in an attack claimed by the United Baluch Army, a separatist group.
Another bomb, in a crowded Sunni mosque in the north-west city of Mingora, killed 22 people and wounded more than 70, said police officials.
UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon strongly condemned the multiple attacks and the ongoing terrorist violence in Pakistan, saying the "heinous acts cannot be justified by any cause" and calling for the perpetrators to be brought to justice.
More than 100 people were wounded in the double bombing at the billiards hall, said a police spokesman. The dead included police officers, journalists and rescue workers who were killed by the remote-controlled car bomb after responding to the initial explosion.
Hospitals and a local mortuary were overwhelmed as the dead and wounded arrived throughout the evening. Weeping relatives gathered outside the A&E at Quetta's Civil Hospital. Inside the mortuary, bodies were laid out on the floor.
The bombs severely damaged the three-story building where the snooker hall was located and set it on fire. It also damaged nearby shops, homes and offices.
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni group with strong ties to the Pakistani Taliban, claimed the attack.
Hazara Shiites, who migrated from Afghanistan more than a century ago, have been the targets of dozens of attacks by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi in Quetta over the past year, but yesterday's was by far the bloodiest.
Human Rights Watch sharply criticised the Pakistani government for not doing enough to crack down on the killings and protect the country's vulnerable Shiite community.
It said more than 400 Shiites were killed in targeted attacks in Pakistan in 2012, including over 120 in Baluchistan.