25 die in Pakistan bus, hospital bombings

Militants blow up house where the hero wholed Pakistan to independence once lived

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 16 June, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 16 June, 2013, 8:12am


At least 25 people were killed in troubled southwest Pakistan yesterday when militants blew up a bus carrying women students and attacked a hospital treating survivors.

Militants had earlier blown up a historic building in Baluchistan linked to Pakistan's founding father.

The attack on the bus in Quetta, capital of the restive Baluchistan province, killed 14 women, while 11 people died in a blast at a city hospital 90 minutes later.

The second attack hit the emergency ward of the city's Bolan Medical Complex where the wounded were taken and was followed by a gun battle with militants holed up inside the hospital.

The siege lasted for several hours and ended when security forces stormed the building.

Quetta was the scene two of the bloodiest attacks in Pakistan this year, both targeting Shiite Muslims, and the student victims were members of a women's university popular with the minority community.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar said the bus bomb killed 14 students and wounded 19.

"As casualties were being brought to the hospital terrorists had taken position inside the hospital building," he said.

"They opened fire on administration and police officials who arrived at the hospital. One suicide bomber blew himself up in the hospital."

Abdul Wasey, spokesman for the paramilitary Frontier Corps, said 11 were killed and 17 wounded in the hospital bombing.

Quetta is a focal point for sectarian violence between majority Sunni Muslims and minority Shiites, who account for about 20 per cent of Pakistan's 180 million population.

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a militant group banned by the government in 2002, claimed responsibility for both attacks.

The bus was from Sardar Bahadur Khan Women's University, which is close to a Shiite Hazara neighbourhood in Quetta, and many Hazaras are students.

Baluchistan, which borders Iran and Afghanistan, is rife with Islamist militancy and a regional insurgency waged by separatists demanding political autonomy and a greater share of profits from the region's natural resources

Earlier, attackers armed with automatic weapons entered the 19th century wooden Ziarat Residency after midnight and planted several bombs.

Mohammad Ali Jinnah, the driving force behind the creation of Pakistan, spent his last days in the building, which was declared a national monument following his death, one year after the country's independence in 1947.

The building is in Ziarat, 80 kilometres southeast of Quetta.

Police official Asghar Ali said militants planted several bombs and detonated them by remote control, gutting the building.

A separatist-group later claimed responsibility. "We blew up the Ziarat Residency," Meerak Baluch, a spokesman for the Baluchistan Liberation Army said. "We don't recognise any Pakistani monument."