The death toll from a series of deadly bombings across Pakistan rose yesterday to 120, police said, marking one of the deadliest days the country has seen in years.
Five people who were wounded in twin bombings on a billiards hall late on Thursday died of their wounds overnight, senior police official Hamid Shakeel from the southern city of Quetta said, putting the death toll from that attack at 86.
The strike was the worst of three deadly bombings targeting Shiites and soldiers in Quetta, capital of the volatile Baluchistan Province, and worshipers at a Sunni mosque in the northwest on the same day. Funerals were expected later yesterday.
The billiards hall bombing, in a Shiite area of the city, started with a suicide attack but was followed by a car bomb minutes later in the same area. Militants often use such staggered bombings as a way to maximize the body count by targeting rescuers and others who rush to the scene after the first explosion to help.
Pakistan’s minority Shiite Muslims have increasingly been targeted by radical Sunnis who consider them heretics. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni militant group with strong ties to the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for 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 Thursday’s attack was by far the bloodiest.
Another bomb, hidden in a bag, went off near a vehicle carrying paramilitary soldiers elsewhere in the city, killing 12 people and wounding more than 40. It had been spotted by a local resident, but was detonated by remote control before soldiers could react.
The United Baluch Army, a separatist group, claimed responsibility for the attack in calls to local journalists. Pakistan has faced a violent insurgency in Baluchistan for years from nationalists who demand greater autonomy and a larger share of the country’s natural resources.
The third blast on Thursday targeted a mosque in the northwestern Pakistani city of Mingora, killing 22 people and wounding more than 70. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the explosion.