Islamabad/Quetta: Lawyers in Pakistan today boycotted courts and staged protests against the killing of their colleagues as a shocked nation mourned the death of 70 people in a horrific suicide bombing at a hospital in restive Balochistan province. The national flag flew at half-mast as the government announced a national mourning.
A suicide bomber yesterday struck 200 lawyers who had gathered outside the emergency ward of civil hospital in Quetta after a senior lawyer was shot dead, killing at least 70 people, including 40 lawyers. The attack also left close to 150 people injured.
Taliban’s Jamaatul Ahrar faction and Islamic State extremists claimed responsibility for the attack. Pakistan Bar Council in a statement said, “Lawyers throughout the country will boycott court proceedings in protest against the killing of lawyers in Quetta yesterday.”
The lawyers boycotted all courts in the country while observing mourning for their colleagues. They held demonstrations in major cities including Islamabad, Karachi and Quetta wearing black arm bands and chanted slogans against terrorism.
In Quetta, all businesses were closed to mourn the victims. Two photo journalists were among those killed and media organisations strongly protested the killings and demanded protection for journalists.
Local police said that most of the victims were buried yesterday while dead bodies of those belonged to far flung areas were sent to their homes to be buried at their native places.
The Balochistan police asked the provincial government to constitute a Joint Investigation Team (JIT) to probe the attack. It would comprise experts from civil and military departments. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif chaired a high-level security meeting in Quetta yesterday and ordered all state security institutions to respond with full might to eliminate terrorists.
“Terrorists are using innovating measures by hitting soft targets and one must respond in an advanced coordinated way,” he said. Chief Secretary Balochistan Saifullah Chatha briefed the Prime Minister on the situation.
The meeting was attended by Chief of the Army Staff General Raheel Sharif, Balochistan Governor Muhammad Khan Achakzai, Chief Minister Sanaullah Zahri, PM’s National Security Adviser Nasser Khan Janjua and Information Minister Pervaiz Rashid.
The troubled Baluchistan province has been hit by terror attacks by militants and separatists who demand more autonomy in the province. Outlawed outfits have also carried out sectarian killings of Shia Hazaras and targeted police and security officials.