News ID: 166567
Published: 0230 GMT August 09, 2016

Pakistani lawyers go on strike after dozens killed in attack

Pakistani lawyers go on strike after dozens killed in attack

Pakistani lawyers staged a nationwide strike on Tuesday after dozens of colleagues were slain in a suicide bombing that killed at least 70 people at a hospital in the southwestern city of Quetta.

Medical staff said up to 60 of those slain in the bombing at a government hospital were lawyers who had gathered to mourn the assassination earlier on Monday of the president of the Balochistan Bar Association, Bilal Anwar Kasi, Reuters reported.

Daesh was one of two terror groups to claim responsibility for the atrocity, although officials and analysts said they had doubts over whether it was behind the attack.

It was the latest, and deadliest, in a string of attacks against lawyers in Pakistan.

"How weak and pathetic are these people who target hospitals, where women and children, where patients, go to get treatment?" Ashtar Ausaf Ali, Pakistan's attorney general, said on Tuesday at a protest outside the Supreme Court in the capital Islamabad.

Supreme Court Bar President Ali Zafar called for the government to do more to protect lawyers.

"Lawyers are relatively more vocal against militancy and they are fighting cases against people accused of terrorism, so it would make sense that they are being targeted," said Ali Malik, a Lahore-based lawyer.

"An attack on lawyers makes a mockery of the law enforcement agencies, it undermines the promises of the state against terrorists and breeds fear among vulnerable citizens."

The bombing in Quetta, the provincial capital of Balochistan Province, was initially claimed by Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, a faction of the Pakistani Taliban that is fighting to overthrow the government.

Later, however, the Daesh terror group said one of its members carried out the attack, in what would mark an escalation in the ability of the group, or its regional offshoots, to strike in Pakistan.

Some Pakistani analysts were skeptical.

"The Daesh claim seems very unconvincing," said Imtiaz Gul, director of the Center for Research and Security Studies in Islamabad.

"The claim of responsibility by Jamaat-ur-Ahrar is more credible," said Muhammad Amir Rana, head of the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies.

He noted that Jamaat had sworn loyalty to Daesh in 2014, but later switched back to the Taliban.


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