Death toll in Pakistan attacks climbs to 61

While no group claimed responsibility for the twin attacks in Parachinar, two outfits said they had carried out the suicide auto bomb blast in Quetta - Jamaatul Ahrar, a splinter group of the banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, and, according to the SITI intelligence group, the Islamic State group.

The first blast occurred during rush hour in Turi Market, where a bus terminal is also located.

The bombing was claimed by a Pakistan-based sectarian militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, who said in a statement that the attack was aimed specifically at minority Shi'ite Muslims, and have threatened that there would be more attacks over Pakistanis fighting Sunni militants in the Syrian civil war.

Early on the fateful day, a auto bomb attack in the morning at the Inspector General of Police Office in Quetta left 14 people dead including seven policemen and over a dozen others injured. "A rally was held in connection with Al-Quds Day immediately after Friday prayers", an official said.

A total of 261 victims, 62 of whom are in critical condition, have been admitted to a government-run hospital in the town.

According to reports, the toll crossed 60 after nine more people injured in the twin Parachinar blasts passed away overnight.

Elsewhere in the country, in the port city of Karachi, gunmen opened fire on police, killing at least four officers before fleeing the scene. There were conflicting claims of responsibility for this attack from different extremist groups.

Earlier in the day, a suicide vehicle bomb blew up in Quetta and killed at least 13 people, including six policeman.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility.

Abdul Razzaq Cheema, Deputy Inspector General of Police, said that it was a suicide attack which also damaged nearby buildings and was heard across the city.

Militants loyal to the Islamic State group abducted and killed two Chinese nationals in Quetta last month. Separatist rebels are battling government forces while Taliban and other militant Islamist groups also operate there.

Just hours after this incident, two consecutive blasts were reported in a crowded market in the Shia- dominated Parachinar city in the Kurram tribal region.

Pakistan has waged a long war with militancy, but security has markedly improved in the country since its deadliest-ever terror attack, an assault on a school in northwestern Peshawar in which Taliban gunmen left more than 150 people dead, a lot of them children.

Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned the attacks and directed authorities to beef up security arrangements across the country, according to a statement by his office.

  • Leroy Wright