independent

Saturday 19 April 2014

115 killed in Pakistan bomb attacks

A Pakistani child who was injured in a bomb blast is taken to hospital for treatment in Quetta (AP)

A series of bombings in different parts of Pakistan killed 115 people, including 81 who died in a sectarian attack on a bustling billiard hall in the south-west city of Quetta.

The blasts punctuated one of the deadliest days in recent years in Pakistan, where the government faces a bloody insurgency by Taliban militants in the north-west and Baluch militants in the south-west.

A US missile strike on Thursday killed five suspected militants in the seventh such attack in two weeks, said Pakistani intelligence officials.

The billiard hall in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province, was hit by twin blasts about 10 minutes apart, killing 81 people and injure more than 160 others, said senior police officer Hamid Shakeel. The hall was located in an area dominated by Shiite Muslims, and most of the victims were from the minority sect, said another police officer, Mohammed Murtaza.

Many people who rushed to the scene after the first blast were hit by the second bomb, which caused the roof of the building to collapse. Police officers, journalists and rescue workers who responded to the initial explosion were also among the dead, said police.

The sectarian militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for the attack to local journalists. One of the group's spokesmen, Bakar Saddiq, said the first attack was carried out by a suicide bomber and the second was a bomb planted in a car and detonated by remote control.

Radical Sunnis groups often target Pakistan's Shiite minority, whom they believe hold heretical views and are not true Muslims.

Earlier in the day, a bomb targeting paramilitary soldiers in a commercial area in Quetta killed 12 people and wounded more than 40 others, said Mr Shakeel, the senior police officer.

The United Baluch Army, a separatist group, claimed responsibility for the attack on the soldiers in calls to local journalists.

Elsewhere in Pakistan, a bomb in a crowded Sunni mosque in the north-west city of Mingora killed 22 people and wounded more than 70, said senior police officer Akhtar Hayyat. No group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Press Association

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