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    Mourning as Quetta death toll mounts to 84

    QUETTA (PAN): As the death toll from a massive bombing in Pakistan’s southwestern Balochistan province mounted to 84, the government announced a day of mourning, officials said on Sunday.

    Saturday night’s explosion on the Kirani Road in Quetta, which wounded around 200 people and was claimed by the Lashkar-i-Jhangvi group, the city was crippled by a strike. A security blanket was thrown around the provincial capital.

    The blast resulted from a bomb placed in a water tanker, a senior police officer said, adding many women and children were among the victims. Members of the minority Hazara community bore the brunt of casualties.

    Deputy Inspector-General of Police Wazir Khan Nasir, calling it a sectarian attack, said the toll had soared to 84 as more people succumbed to their injuries.

    City police chief, Mir Zubair Mehmud, told Pajhwok Afghan News feared the number of fatalities could go up, given the critical condition of many injured people. The casualties were evacuated to Combined Military Hospital and Bolan Medical Complex.

    Governor Nawab Zulfikar Ali Magsi announced a day of mourning over the devastating attack, blaming security agencies for failing to stop terrorists in their tracks. President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf and other political leaders condemned the incident.

    Following the huge blast, gunshots rang out for quite some time in the densely-populated locality, according to one witness, who claimed the site was littered with body parts and pools of blood.

    Angry members of the Hazara tribe pelted police and paramilitary troops with stones, preventing them from shifting the dead and injured from the scene.

    Home Secretary Akbar Hussain Durrani said the bomb was planted near a double-storey building close to a market that collapsed as a result of the impact, trapping a number of people, who had come for shopping.

    Majlis-i-Wahdat-i-Muslimeen, a group of Shia Muslims, announced three days of mourning over the horrific incident and called the strike call. Shiites took to the streets, blocking roads, torching tyres and firing into the air.

    Last month, 93 people -- most of them Hazaras -- were killed in a string of bombings on Alamdar road in Quetta, sparking a storm of protests in different parts of Pakistan. The outlawed militant group, Lashkar-i-Jhangvi, had claimed responsibility for the attacks.

    Bowing to mounting political and public pressure, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf sacked the provincial government and imposed governor’s rule in the province, bordering Afghanistan’s southern Kandahar province.

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