Skip to main content

Pakistani province in mourning after blasts kill scores

By Shaan Khan, CNN
updated 10:58 AM EST, Fri January 11, 2013
Debris and mangled vehicles are seen at the site of a bomb explosion in Quetta on January 10, 2013.
Debris and mangled vehicles are seen at the site of a bomb explosion in Quetta on January 10, 2013.
  • NEW: Baloch insurgents are blamed for one attack; Sunni militants, for a double-bombing
  • Police say the death toll from the bomb blasts in Quetta has risen to 97
  • A separate attack in the Swat Valley kills 21 people
  • A three-day mourning period begins in the restive province of Balochistan

Islamabad, Pakistan (CNN) -- A three-day mourning period began Friday in a southwestern Pakistani province where a series of bomb blasts killed nearly 100 people the previous day in the bustling city of Quetta.

The deadliest explosions were two suicide bombings in a predominantly Shiite neighborhood known as Alamdar Road.

One blast brought police, rescue workers and journalists rushing to the scene. It was swiftly followed by another explosion -- set off by a man sitting in a car with over 100 kilograms of explosives -- that caught many of those responding to the initial attack.

The history of the Pakistani Taliban
Pakistan: Give us the drone technology
Pakistan Taliban militant killed
Bhutto's son makes political debut

The double bombing, described by police as one of the worst attacks on the Shiite minority, killed 85 people and wounded about 150.

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a banned Sunni militant group, claimed responsibility for the Alamdar Road attacks.

Shiites, a minority sect in the mainly Sunni Muslim Pakistan, face persecution from extremists. Last month, more than 20 Shiite pilgrims were killed when a car bomb detonated near the buses they were traveling in.

Mir Zubair Mehmood, a Quetta police official, said the Alamdar attacks were motivated by Sunni and Shiite sectarian differences.

Read more: What's working in Pakistan

Another blast in Quetta on Thursday struck a security checkpoint in a busy market, authorities said. A bomb planted in a car detonated as security forces entered the area, killing 12 people and wounding 45, according to Wazir Khan Nasir, a police spokesman. Nasir blamed the attack on Baloch insurgents.

A fourth bomb went off by the side of the road leading to the city's airport, wounding three.

Quetta is the capital of Balochistan province.

Watch: Pakistan: Give us the drone technology

Balochistan Chief Minister Nawab Raisani announced the mourning period for the province late Thursday in the aftermath of the bombings. Over the next three days, commercial activity in Quetta, one of Pakistan's largest cities, will be suspended.

Balochistan is regularly plagued by violence from myriad causes. As well as the sectarian attacks on Shiites, the unrest in the province is believed to be fomented by several insurgent groups, including the separatist Balochistan Liberation Army and the Pakistani Taliban.

Although Balochistan is the largest province in Pakistan geographically, analysts and some locals have criticized the federal government for neglecting it, leading to instability.

More on Pakistan: India and Pakistan trade accusations over Kashmir violence

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf condemned the blasts in Quetta.

"The prime minister, while expressing his heartfelt condolences and sympathies with the bereaved families, reiterated the government's resolve to stamp out the menace of militancy and terrorism from the country in its all shapes and manifestations," said a statement released by his office.

Read more: Malala, others on front lines in fight for women

Elsewhere on Thursday, a bomb went off in a preaching center on the outskirts of the city of Mingora in the Swat Valley, police said. The blast killed 21 people and wounded 70, according to Dr. Jamil Khan, a doctor at Mingora hospital. So far, no group has taken responsibility for the attack.

Mingora is in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province in Pakistan's northwest.

The U.S. ambassador to Pakistan, Richard Olson, expressed condolences to the families of those killed in the attacks.

"The United States stands with the people of Pakistan in strongly condemning these senseless and inhumane acts," he said in a statement released Friday.

CNN's Aliza Kassim in Atlanta and journalist Nasir Habib in Islamabad contributed to this report.

Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 7:27 PM EDT, Fri July 25, 2014
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.