Dozens killed in Pakistan hospital bombing

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A suicide bomber killed at least 64 people and wounded dozens in an attack that struck a gathering of Pakistani lawyers at a government-run hospital in the southwestern city of Quetta on Monday, police and doctors said.

Witnesses described horrifying scenes of bodies being scattered about and the wounded crying out for help.

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a breakaway faction of the Pakistani Taliban, later claimed responsibility for the attack.

Nearly 100 lawyers had come to the hospital in the heart of Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province, after the body of their colleague, prominent attorney Bilal Kasi, was brought there.

Kasi, the chief of the province's bar association, was shot and killed by gunmen earlier on Monday as he was on his way to his office.

The lawyers gathered at the Quetta Civil Hospital to express their grief at his death, as is common with public figures in Pakistan.

Kasi was among the most outspoken lawyers in the province and was popular for campaigning for improvements in the lawyers' community.

Abdul Rehman, the director at the Civil Hospital, said the bombing killed 63 people - later updated to 64 - most of whom were lawyers.

Two journalists working for Pakistani news channels were also killed in the attack, according to Shahzada Zulfiqar, the President of the Quetta Press Club.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned the blast and expressed his "deep grief and anguish over the loss of precious human lives" in the attack.

General Raheel Sharif, the powerful army chief of Pakistan, also visited the Quetta Civil Hospital, and met with the wounded.
According to a military statement, he ordered intelligence agencies to track down and apprehend all those linked to Monday's attack.

Quetta and the rest of Baluchistan province have long been hit by insurgency.

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