A bomb on a bus in Pakistan has killed at least 11 women university students and teachers and hurt 20 others. Militants later attacked the hospital where the victims were taken.
The assaults in the southwestern city of Quetta followed the destruction by militants of a historic house in the same province that had once been used by Pakistan’s founding father.
No one immediately claimed responsibility, but Baluch nationalists, Taliban militants and violent sectarian groups have all been blamed for attacks in recent months amid a deadly upsurge of violence in the region.
“It was an improvised explosive device placed in the women university bus,” police chief Zubair Mahmood was quoted by the BBC as saying.
NPR’s Philip Reeves, reporting from Islamabad, says most of the victims were students and teachers going home after morning classes. He says it’s the bloodiest attack since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was sworn in just over a week ago.
The second bomb at the hospital wounded at least four people, said Fayaz Sumbal, a senior police officer in Quetta. Philip says militants attacked the hospital and shot dead a senior government official. He says there are reports that militants are holed up inside the hospital.
Pakistan TV as saying a senior Quetta official, Abdul Mansoor Khan, who had come to visit the victims, was killed in the stand-off. There are fears of more casualties, the BBC says.
The Associated Press reports that television footage of the bus showed a blackened hulk with twisted pieces of metal and articles of women’s clothing strewn about.
The bus attack came just hours after a 19th century residence once used by Muhammad Ali Jinnah, considered the father of modern Pakistan, was destroyed by attackers on motorcycles who planted bombs in the house and then set it on fire, senior police officer Asghar Ali Yousufzai was quoted by the AP as saying.
The destruction of the residence, located in the town of Ziarat, about 75 miles north of Quetta, was sure to spark widespread anger.
“This tragedy happened which is a huge national loss,” Babar Fateh Yaqoo, the chief secretary of Baluchistan province, said on television. “The people of Ziarat are protesting over this incident.”