Photo: AP Images
Bombings across Pakistan killed more than 115 people on Thursday, including 81 in an attack on a snooker hall in the troubled southwestern city of Quetta, in one of the country’s bloodiest days in recent years.Two coordinated explosions killed at least 81 people and injured more than 120 in a sectarian attack on the building in Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan.
The first blast appeared to be a suicide bombing, local residents said. About 10 minutes later, a car bomb went off, they said.
“The death toll has risen to 81 so far,” said Mir Zubair Mehmood, a senior police official, putting the number of wounded at 121.
“Nine police personnel, including two officers, have lost their lives. Both (attacks) were (carried out by) suicide bombers and the death toll could rise further,” he added.
The attack happened in a predominately Shia neighbourhood and banned sectarian group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) claimed responsibility. The snooker club is frequented mostly by Shias, police said.
LeJ, an extremist Sunni group, targets Shias, who make up about 20 per cent of Pakistan’s population.
It was the deadliest single attack in Pakistan since twin suicide bombers killed 98 people outside a police training centre in the northwestern town of Shabqadar on May 13, 2011 – shortly after US troops killed Osama bin Laden.
Earlier in the day, a blast in Quetta’s market killed 11 people and injured more than 40, mostly vegetable sellers. A child was among the dead.
The United Baloch Army, a group fighting for independence for Balochistan, claimed responsibility for that blast.
In another incident Thursday, 21 people were killed and more than 60 injured in a bombing when people gathered to hear a religious leader speak in Mingora, the largest city in the northwestern province of Swat, police and officials at the Saidu Sharif hospital said.
According to the US-based Human Rights Watch, 2012 was the deadliest year on record for Shias in Pakistan .
The organisation on Thursday called the government’s failure to protect the community, which account for around 20 per cent of the population, “reprehensible and amounts to complicity in the barbaric slaughter of Pakistani citizens”.
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