The UN’s agency tasked with defending press freedom has denounced the recent terrorist attack that killed over 70 people, including two journalists, in Pakistan’s Quetta region, saying violence against civilians cannot be justified.
“There can be no justification for violence targeting civilians,” said Irina Bokova, Director-General of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).
“The loss of these media professionals in the brutal terrorist attack in Quetta undermines citizens’ ability to sustain informed debate that is the bedrock of good governance and dialogue,” Bokova said.
Mehmood Khan, a cameraman for Dawn News, and Shehzad Ahmed, a cameraman for Aaj TV, were reporting at the time of the bomb blast on a gathering of mourners following the murder of president of the Baluchistan Bar Association Bilal Anwar Kasi earlier in the day.
While Shehzad died on the spot, Mehmood passed away in the hospital as doctors tried to save his life.
A third journalist working for Dunya News, identified only as Faridullah also sustained injuries in the blast.
A majority of those dead in the attack were lawyers as they had gathered into an emergency room of the hospital to mourn the death of their colleague.
Earlier, in a statement issued by his office, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon also condemned the attack, underscoring that the targeting of mourners made it “particularly appalling.”
Condemning the terrorist bombing, Ban had urged the Pakistani government to do its utmost to ensure safety of the population and bring to justice the perpetrators of the attack.
At least 74 people were killed on Monday and over 100 injured after a suicide bomber struck the emergency ward of Quetta’s Civil Hospital, where scores of people had gathered to mourn the death of Kasi in a gun attack earlier in the day.
The attack was claimed by Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan splinter outfit Jamaatul Ahrar and the Islamic State militant group.