KARACHI: At least 75 people were killed and 115 others injured today when a suicide bomber struck mourners, mostly lawyers, gathered at a hospital in Pakistan's restive Balochistan province in an attack claimed by both the Taliban and the Islamic State terror groups.
The bomber struck at a time when over 200 mourners had gathered at the government-run Civil Hospital in Quetta where the body of prominent lawyer Bilal Anwar Kasi, who was shot dead earlier in the day, was brought. Kasi was the president of Balochistan Bar Association.
Both Islamic State and a faction of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack.
The Islamic State group today claimed it was behind a suicide bombing.
"A martyrdom bomber of the Islamic State detonates his explosive belt on a group of personnel belonging to the Ministry of Justice and the Pakistani Police in the city of Quetta," the IS-linked Amaq news agency said.
A spokesman for Jamaatul Aharar, a faction of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, said that his faction "accepts responsibility" for the attack in the southwestern city of Quetta and vowed more attacks "until the imposition of an Islamic system in Pakistan".
"The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaat-ur-Ahrar takes responsibility for this attack, and pledges to continue carrying out such attacks. We will release a video report on this soon," spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan said in an email to media outlets.
A loud explosion was heard at the emergency department where Kasi's body was brought for an autopsy.
Gunfire followed the explosion. Police said it was a suicide attack where eight kilogrammes of explosives were used.
"No crater found at the site of the attack and it appears the bomber had the explosives strapped to his chest," a police officer said.
Bomb Disposal Squad officials also confirmed the explosion was a suicide bombing -- one of the deadliest terror attacks in the country this year.
Soon after the attack, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and Chief of army staff General Raheel Sharif reached the city and visited the hospital to take stock of the situation.
Prime Minister Sharif and President Mamnoon Hussain strongly condemned the attack. Sharif ordered the provincial government to arrest the culprits.
"No one will be allowed to disrupt the peace of the province," Sharif said.
He said "all state security institutions must respond with full might to decimate these terrorists".
Doctors and rescue officials put the death toll at 75 and said the number could increase as the condition of some of the injured was very critical. They said 115 people were injured in the attack.