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Pakistan suicide bombing at police funeral leaves 30 dead

ISLAMABAD, Pakistan – At least 30 people were killed, including 21 police officers, and 40 injured when a suicide bomber attacked a policeman’s funeral in the western Pakistan city of Quetta on Thursday.

Mourners were gathering at police headquarters for the afternoon funeral of a policeman shot earlier in the day while travelling with his two children, who were injured, when the attacker slipped into the crowd and blew himself up near the entrance to a mosque. Several of the city’s top police officers were killed in the bombing.

“These terrorists are neither Muslims nor human,” Balochistan provincial police chief Mushtaq Ahmad Sukhera said at a news conference. “They are enemies of humanity, Islam and the nation.”

The funeral in Quetta, Baluchistan’s provincial capital, was being broadcast live so much of the immediate aftermath was caught on tape. Local footage showed men in traditional white salwar kameez running in terror across a field. Others lay on the ground dazed and weeping, some holding their heads in their hands, as abandoned shoes and body parts littered the ground.

“I appeal to the nation to unify in this war against terrorism,” Sukhera said at the news conference. “Police have made great sacrifices and will continue to do so for this country. We will not retreat."

No one claimed immediate responsibility for the attack. The area is inhabited by many militants, including the Taliban, separatist fighters and sectarian groups. Quetta is also believed to be the hiding place of Afghan Taliban leader Mullah Mohammed Omar.

Initial reports suggested the suicide bomber wore a vest packed with up to 10 kilograms of explosives, ball bearings and shrapnel.

“Most of the bodies were beyond recognition,” a witness told reporters in an interview aired on local TV channel ARY. “We collected body parts and flesh.”

Thursday’s attack in one of Pakistan’s most heavily militarized cities, which was on high alert Thursday, calls into question the ability of Pakistan’s security services to safeguard the country.

Pakistan has suffered several attacks, including a jail break that freed 250 prisoners, since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif was elected in May on a campaign pledge to bolster internal security.

[For the record, 4:15 p.m. Aug. 8: An earlier version of this post described Quetta as an eastern Pakistani city. It is in western Pakistan.]

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mark.magnier@latimes.com

Special correspondent Khan reported from Islamabad and Magnier reported from New Delhi.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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