At least three journalists were killed and two others seriously injured when a bomb went off near a billiards hall in Quetta, Balochistan, as the journalists were reporting on an explosion that was set off there just minutes earlier, according to local journalists and news reports. Dozens of other people were reported killed in the double bombing, for which the militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility. The slain journalists include Saama TV staffers Imran Shaikh and Saif ur Rehman. A photo journalist Mohammad Iqbal, associated with the news agency NNI also perished in the blast.
Another photo journalist Mohammad Ahsan, (brother of Mohammand Iqbal) and Geo TV cameraman Acmy Rogers have been injured in the blast. Mohammad Ahsan is reported to have suffered serious injuries.
Samaa TV cameraman Imran Shaikh, reporting from the scene of the first blast, died in the second explosion, according to Samaa TV senior producer Azam Gondal, who confirmed the death to CPJ by phone from Karachi. Saif ur Rehman, a reporter for Samaa TV, suffered serious injuries and died later at a local hospital, according to local news reports. Zahid Hussein, Samaa TV director of news, confirmed the death to CPJ by telephone.
The two blasts were detonated within about 10 minutes, killing dozens, including police, emergency workers, and journalists who had rushed to the scene of the first explosion, according to the reports. Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a sectarian militant group, claimed responsibility for the attack, The Associated Press reported. Bakar Saddiq, a spokesman for the group, said a suicide bomber carried out the first attack, while the second was a car bomb detonated remotely, according to the AP. The billiards hall is in a predominantly Shia area.
The Pakistan Federal Union of Journalists was reporting the death of a third journalist. CPJ is seeking additional information about the report.
“Double bombings of this kind are particularly hazardous for journalists as they are often among the first responders that the bombers are cynically targeting. These attacks underline the tremendous risks reporters face in covering the news not just in Baluchistan but throughout Pakistan, which has become one of the most dangerous places to be journalist,” CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney said. “We send our deepest condolences to the family and colleagues of Imran Shaikh and Saif ur Rehman, as well as the other journalists who sustained injuries today.”
Includes input from report by CPJ