Both IS, Pakistan Taliban Claim Deadly Attack on Quetta Hospital

Both IS, Pakistan Taliban Claim Deadly Attack on Quetta Hospital Both IS, Pakistan Taliban Claim Deadly Attack on Quetta Hospital

A suicide bombing in Pakistan killed at least 70 people and wounded more than 100 on Monday in an attack on mourners gathered at a hospital in the southwestern city of Quetta, which has been claimed by the self-styled Islamic State and a faction of Taliban terrorist groups.

“The bomber struck as a crowd of mostly lawyers and journalists crammed into the emergency department to accompany the body of a prominent lawyer who had been shot and killed in the city earlier in the day”, Faridullah, a reporter who was among the wounded, told Reuters.

Abdul Rehman Miankhel, a senior official at the government-run Civil Hospital, where the explosion occurred, told reporters that at least 70 people had been killed, with more than 112 wounded.

“There are many wounded, so the death toll could rise,” said Rehmat Saleh Baloch, the provincial health minister.

IS’s Amaq news agency reported the Middle East-based movement was behind the bombing. If true, it would mark an alarming development for Pakistan, long plagued by militant violence but most of it locally-based.

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a faction of the militant Pakistani Taliban group, earlier said it had carried out the attack. The movement at one time swore fealty to IS’s Middle East leadership, but later switched back to the Taliban.

“The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (TTP-JA) takes responsibility for this attack, and pledges to continue carrying out such attacks,” said spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan in a statement.

Only last week, Jamaat was added to the United States’ list of global terrorists, triggering sanctions.

It remains unclear what ties Jamaat retains to IS, whose leadership is a rival to both the Taliban and Al-Qaeda over claims to represent the so-called caliphate.

In September 2014, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar rejected the Pakistani Taliban during a leadership struggle and swore allegiance to IS, also known as Daesh.

By March 2015, however, the group was again swearing loyalty to the main Pakistani Taliban umbrella leadership. The reason for its return to the fold remains murky, but Jamaat also never specifically disavowed IS either.