At least 63 people have died and scores more seriously injured after a bomb was detonated in a hospital in Balochistan province, Pakistan, Monday morning.
The bomb exploded at the gates of the Civil Hospital's emergency department in Quetta, wounding at least 100 people, local media reported.
Many of those hurt or killed were lawyers or journalists who had gathered at the hospital after prominent lawyer Bilal Anwar Kasti was shot dead earlier on Monday morning and brought to the emergency department.
Two men opened fire following the blast, local station Geo TV reported. Graphic images showed many of those caught up in the attack were dressed in black suits and ties.
"No one will be allowed to disturb the peace of the province," Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said following the attack. "The people, policy and security forces in Balochistan have given sacrifices for the country."
As the death toll kept rising from the initially reported 40, police officials investigating the attack indicated the explosion was a suicide bomber.
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a breakaway faction of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claimed responsibility for the attack, Associated Press reported. It is the third attack claimed by the group this year, following the most recent in March when more than 70 people were killed in a playground in Lahore.
Facebook has activated its safety check feature for Quetta.
The hospital has been bombed before in 2010, with local journalists asking why – with such a high-profile victim in the wards – there was not better security deployed. A video from the hospital gates showed a cameraman reciting a Kalima, or tenet of his beliefs, just moments before the explosion.
"This was a security lapse," Balochistan Home Minister Sarfaraz Bugti admitted to Dawn newspaper as hospitals in the province were placed on alert. He added that he was personally investigating the explosion.
Politicians across the spectrum condemned the attack.
It is the latest attack against the judiciary. At least 17 lawyers, including Kasti's predecessor, Baz Muhammad Kakar, were killed in the bomb blast.
Kasti, who was president of the Balochistan Bar Association, had been shot en route to Quetta court earlier today.
Balochistan, one of Pakistan's largest provinces, suffers from low-level separatist Baloch movement, as well as underlying ethnic tensions. Recently, prominent lawyers have spoken out against the violence, and Kasti had promised to go on strike in protest.
The country's Supreme Court Bar Association told Geo TV it would hold a week-long mourning for the attack, with lawyers staging a protest today in Lahore.
Condemning the attack, Lahore SC Bar President Ali Zafar told in a press conference: "This is not just an attack on lawyers, this is an attack on all citizens. We have always stood with democratic forces. And we have been targeted."