QUETTA, Pakistan — A series of bombings killed 115 people across Pakistan Thursday, 81 of whom died in twin blasts on a bustling billiards hall in a Shi’ite area of Quetta.
Pakistan’s minority Shi’ite Muslims have increasingly been targeted by radical Sunnis who consider them heretics, and a militant Sunni group claimed responsibility for Thursday’s deadliest attack — sending a suicide bomber into the packed pool hall and then detonating a car bomb five minutes later.
It was one of the deadliest days in recent years for a country with radical Islamists, militant separatists, and criminal gangs.
Violence has been especially intense in southwest Baluchistan Province, where Quetta is the capital and the country’s largest concentration of Shi’ites live. Many are ethnic Hazara who migrated from Afghanistan.
The billiards hall is in an area dominated by the minority sect. Besides the 81 dead, more than 120 people were wounded in the double bombing, said police officer Zubair Mehmood. The dead included police officers, journalists, and rescue workers who responded to the initial explosion.
Hospitals and a mortuary were overwhelmed as the dead and wounded arrived through the evening. Weeping relatives gathered outside Quetta’s Civil Hospital. In the morgue, bodies were laid out on the floor.
Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni militant group with ties to the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack.