People help victims of a bomb blast in Quetta, Pakistan, Monday, Aug. 8, 2016.

People help victims of a bomb blast in Quetta, Pakistan, Monday, Aug. 8, 2016.

Ayaz Gul
A powerful bomb exploded Monday in a hospital complex in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, killing at least 41 people and wounding more than 60, witnesses and police said.

Lawyers accounted for most of the victims, according to initial reports.

Senior Police Superintendent Zahoor Ahmad Afridi told VOA that several police personnel and at least two media persons are among the dead.

The blast occurred shortly after dozens of lawyers gathered in Quetta’s Civil Hospital to protest and mourn the killing of their provincial bar association’s president in an early morning drive-by shooting by unknown gunmen.

Journalists and television cameramen covering the lawyers’ rally were also among those killed and wounded. Officials say the death toll is likely to increase as “condition of many of the wounded is critical.”

Speaking to VOA, the provincial government spokesman, Anwar ul-Haq Kakar gave details of the incident.

“This morning, unfortunately, one of our very distinguished lawyers, Bilal Anwar Kasi, was targeted and he was martyred in the early hours of the morning. As soon as his dead body was received by the lawyer community there was a huge blast. As a result we have got a huge number of injuries and many deaths.”

There were no immediate claims of responsibility.

Kakar said authorities were still trying to determine whether the the attack was the work of a suicide bomber or if it was a planted device. He said the violence is a reaction to Pakistan’s counter-terrorism and counter-extremism efforts.

“The same terrorist groups which are religious and sectarian-inspired, we are suspecting that they are behind such heinous acts,” he said.

Quetta is the capital of Baluchistan province, where ethnic Baloch separatists and religious extremists routinely carry out such attacks.