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Pakistani lawyers at strike after dozens killed in suicide bombing

Pakistani lawyers at strike after dozens killed in suicide bombingLawyers in Pakistan started a nationwide strike on Tuesday to mourn the loss of 70 people that were slain in a suicide bombing at a hospital in the southwestern city of Quetta.

Nearly 60 of those killed in the attack at a government hospital were lawyers who had gathered to mourn the assassination earlier on Monday of the president of the Baluchistan Bar Association, Bilal Anwar Kasi.

Taliban faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar says it was behind both the attack and murder. Islamic State also claims responsibility for the blast, although officials and analysts said they had doubts over whether the Middle East-based movement was behind the blast.

The Supreme Court Bar Association (SCBA) and the Pakistan Bar Council (PBC) said its lawyers would be boycotting court proceedings, and observing a week of mourning.

"We [lawyers] have been targeted because we always raise our voice for people's rights and for democracy," SCBA President Ali Zafar told reporters in Lahore.

"Lawyers are relatively more vocal against militancy and they are fighting cases against people accused of terrorism, so it would make sense that they are being targeted," said Ali Malik, a Lahore-based lawyer.

Monday's bombing targeted lawyers and journalists who had gathered in Quetta's Civil Hospital where the body of Mr Kasi had been brought. At least 120 people were injured, 70 killed in the blast.
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