At a hospital entrance in Pakistan, a man detonated his explosive suicide vest, killing 67 people and injuring as many as 92 others.
The suicide attack took place in the city of Quetta – the capital city of Pakistan’s southwestern province of Baluchistan.
Early Monday morning, a prominent lawyer Bilal Kasi in Baluchistan had been shot and killed on the way to his office. He was subsequently taken to the hospital, and nearly 100 fellow lawyers came to the hospital in his honor.
That’s when the suicide bomber detonated himself. Most of the victims were lawyers with the Baluchistan Bar Association. Kasi himself was the association’s president. From the Associated Press:
One of the survivors described a horrifying scene, saying there were “bodies everywhere.” Waliur Rehman said he was taking his ailing father to the emergency ward when the explosion shook the building, knocking them both to the ground.
Another witness, lawyer Abdul Latif, said he arrived at the hospital to express his grief over Kasi’s killing. But he said he didn’t know he would “see the bodies of dozens of other lawyers” killed and wounded shortly after arriving.
Sanaullah Zehri, chief minister in Baluchistan province, said both the bombing and Kasi’s slaying seemed to be part of a plot to disrupt peace in the provincial capital.
A Taliban offshoot group called Jamaat-ul-Ahrar – “Assembly of the Free” – claimed responsibility not only for Kasi’s murder, but also for ordering the suicide attack at the hospital. The group has reportedly been behind several other attacks in Pakistan in recent years.
Last year, that militant Islamic group announced that it had rejoined the Pakistani Taliban. Although the group is not officially part of ISIS, it has expressed support for it.
The lawyer association – and particularly its president Balil Kasi – had been known for fighting on behalf of the legal community in Baluchistan for improvements.
The province of Baluchistan is Pakistan’s largest of four provinces, taking up about 44% of the country’s total land area. Despite its geographical size, it takes up just over 6% of the nation’s total population.
The natural resource-rich province’s economy is largely dependent on its natural gas, coal, and mineral industry. But because its population is relatively small compared to other provinces, they are under-represented, and are at the mercy of their Punjabi-run federal government – which allows the province’s natural resources to be exploited by foreign entities. As a result, Baluchistan is the country’s poorest and least developed province.