An injured rescue worker receives treatment in a hospital
after the second bomb blast in Quetta. Photo by Reuters
At least 101 people were killed in bombings in two
Pakistani cities in one of the country's bloodiest days in
The bombings underscored the myriad threats Pakistani
security forces face from homegrown Sunni extremist groups,
the Taliban insurgency in the northwest and the less
well-known Baloch insurgency in the southwest.
Two co-ordinated explosions killed at least 69 people and
injured more than 100 in Quetta, the provincial capital of
Balochistan, said Deputy Inspector of Police Hamid Shakil.
The first attack, in a crowded snooker hall, was a suicide
bombing, local residents said. About ten minutes later, a car
bomb exploded. Five policemen and a cameraman were among the
dead from that blast.
The attacks happened in a predominately Shia neighbourhood
and banned sectarian group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed
responsibility. The extremist Sunni group targets Shias, who
make up about 20 percent of Pakistani's population.
Targeted killings and bombings of Shia communities are common
in Pakistan, and rights groups say hundreds of Shia were
killed last year. Militant groups in Balochistan frequently
bomb or shoot Shia passengers on buses travelling to
The killers are rarely caught and some Shia activists say
militants work alongside elements of Pakistan's security
forces, who see them as a potential bulwark against
Many Pakistanis fear their nation could become the site of a
regional power struggle between Saudi Arabia, source of
funding for Sunni extremist groups, and Iran, which is
But sectarian tensions are not the only source of violence.
The United Baloch Army claimed responsibility for a blast in
Quetta's market earlier in the day. It killed 11 people and
injured more than 40, mostly vegetable sellers and secondhand
clothes dealers, police officer Zubair Mehmood said. A child
was also killed.
The group is one of several fighting for independence for
Balochistan, an arid, impoverished region with substantial
gas, copper and gold reserves, which constitutes just under
half of Pakistan's territory and is home to about 8 million
of the country's population of 180 million.
In another incident, 21 were killed and more than 60 injured
in a bombing when people gathered to hear a religious leader
speak in Mingora, the largest city in the northwestern
province of Swat, police and officials at the Saidu Sharif
"The death toll may rise as some of the injured are in
critical condition and we are receiving more and more injured
people," said Dr. Niaz Mohammad.
It has been more than two years since a militant attack has
claimed that many lives in Swat.
The mountainous region, formerly a tourist destination, has
been administered by the Pakistani army since their 2009
offensive drove out Taliban militants who had taken control.
But Talibans retain the ability to attack in Swat and shot
schoolgirl campaigner Malala Yousufzai in Mingora last
A Taliban spokesman said they were not responsible for the