ISLAMABAD — Two bomb blasts rocked Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province in southwest Pakistan, on Saturday, tearing through a bus and then a hospital where the victims of the first attack had been taken.
Pakistani officials said at least 10 women were killed when the first blast hit a university bus. At least 19 other students were wounded, a police officer, Mir Zubair Mahmood, told The Associated Press.
A second explosion occurred as gunmen attacked the Bolan Medical Complex, where the wounded were brought for treatment. Senior Quetta officials were visiting the hospital when armed gunmen forced their way into the compound, leading to an exchange of heavy gunfire.
Abdul Mansoor, the Quetta deputy commissioner, was among the people killed at the hospital, according to reports.
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The brazen attacks shook the country, and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif instructed the interior minister, Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan, to assist the provincial government in controlling the situation.
The attacks occurred shortly after militants destroyed a historic building early Saturday that once was used by the country’s founder, Muhammad Ali Jinnah. The blast set off widespread panic.
Analysts said the attack on the Jinnah building, a national monument, had symbolic importance, signifying the deep rifts in Pakistan.
At least five militants attacked the building, Jinnah’s Residency, as it was called, in Ziarat, about 74 miles from Quetta. They used rockets and hand grenades, officials said, and a guard was killed.
Explosions caused a fire that quickly engulfed the two-story building. The facade was made of timber and was turned to ashes. A charred bricked structure remained barely intact; television images showed the smoldering remains.
The Baluch Liberation Army, a militant separatist group that is fighting for the independence of Baluchistan province, a mineral-rich region in southwestern Pakistan, claimed responsibility for the attack.