QUETTA, Feb 17: Sixteen people, including a judge and six lawyers, were killed and 35 others injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up inside the court of a senior civil judge here on Saturday.

Three police constables and several lawyers were among the injured. The attack was made while senior civil judge Abdul Wahid Durrani was hearing a case, witnesses said.

The victims were taken to the Civil Hospital and the Bolan Medical College Hospital. Eight of the injured who received burn wounds are stated to be serious.

Confirming that the incident was a suicide attack, Balochistan Chief Minister Jam Mohammed Yousuf said that a man entered the courtroom and blew himself up, killing 15 people on the spot.

The involvement of foreign hand and jihadi organisations in the attack could not be ruled out, he told a press conference soon after the incident.

The courtroom was completely destroyed in the suicide blast that rocked the whole city. Fragments of doors and windows of the courtroom were found as far as 200 metres from the site. The windowpanes of other courtrooms and district courts buildings in the vicinity were also smashed.

Blood and mutilated bodies of the victims were scattered all across the courtroom and limbs flew as far as 100 metres away.

"The head of one lawyer was separated from his body," a witness said.

Also found were the head and two legs of the suicide attacker which would be sent to Islamabad for DNA test and reconstruction of face for identification, Provincial Police Officer Tariq Masood Khosa told Dawn, confirming that the remains belonged to the suicide attacker.

He said that two teams, comprising senior officials of the Crime Investigation Department and local police, had been constituted for carrying out investigations.

He said the attacks on government installations and personnel of law-enforcement agencies were a reaction to the government's firm resolve to combat terrorism and sabotage activities in the country.

According to reports, Mr Durrani arrived at the courtroom at 10am. Having disposed of one case at 11am, he started hearing another one, concerning one Khuda-i-Dost. At that time, a young man sporting a small beard and wearing a coat entered the courtroom, and only a minute later, there was a powerful explosion.

"I saw a young man hurrying into the courtroom and after a minute, the courtroom was blown up," senior lawyer Arshad Awan said, adding that he was in the same room just two minutes before the blast. "When I returned, I saw the head of the same man outside the court room," Mr Awan said.

Soon after the blast, emergency was declared in hospitals and all senior doctors were called on duty.

Dr Arz Mohammad told Dawn at the Civil Hospital that they had received 35 injured, of whom eight were in serious condition as they had received burn wounds. Others were stable and improving, he added.

Hospital sources confirmed the deceased as Abdul Wahid Durrani, Mohammad Sadiq Nurzai advocate, Mir Asadullah Mengal advocate, Abdul Hamid advocate, Abdul Ghais advocate, Abdullah advocate, Azhar Ali advocate, Yar Mohammad, Atiq Ahmed, Jamil Kakar, Sharyar, Haji Abdullah Shahwani, Obaidullah, Naqibullah and Khuda-i-Dost, apart from the suicide attacker.

In the wake of the incident, security was beefed up in and around the provincial capital. Additional police contingents were posted at the Governor’s House, Chief Minister’s House, Assembly building, Civil Secretariat, high court, and other government buildings and important places.

Special checkposts were established at all points of entry into the city and law-enforcement agencies started searching Quetta-bound vehicles including passenger buses, trucks and cars.

Meanwhile, Governor Owais Ahmed Ghani has condemned the attack and expressed grief over the loss of innocent lives.

COMPENSATION: Chief Minister Jam Mir Mohammad Yousuf has announced compensation of Rs300,000 for the family of each deceased.

A notification issued here said that each injured would be paid Rs150,000 as compensation.

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