Posts Tagged ‘lawyers’

United Nations Human Rights Experts Campaign to Improve Human Rights Among ASEAN Nations at Philippine Summit

November 11, 2017
Riot police prepare to push back people protesting the visit of U.S. President Donald Trump outside the main venue of the ASEAN summit meetings Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017 in Manila, Philippines. Trump is currently on a visit to Asia with the Philippines as his last stop for the ASEAN leaders’ summit and related summits between the regional grouping and its Dialogue Partners. AP/Aaron Favila

MANILA, Philippines — Four United Nations human rights experts urged the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations to discuss “pressing” regional rights issues during the bloc’s key summit in Manila.

From November 11 to 14, 21 world leaders—along with the UN chief—will sit down for talks in Manila for the 31st ASEAN meet.

SPECIAL COVERAGE: ASEAN Summit in the Philippines

In a statement dated November 10, the UN experts, while recognizing the “important work of the many active civil society organizations across the region,” expressed concern over the “worrying deterioration in the environment” where human rights defenders operate.

They also expressed dismay at the “increasing harassment and prosecutions” of bloggers, journalists and social media users.

“Human rights defenders, social activists, lawyers, journalists, independent media and even parliamentarians trying to speak out and protect the rights of others, increasingly face a multitude of risks ranging from judicial harassment and prosecution to threats, disappearances and killings,” the experts said.

“We condemn the public vilification, harassment, arrests and killings of members of civil society, and call on Member States to rigorously uphold their duty to ensure the freedom and protection of those exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of expression, association and peaceful assembly,” they added.

“Independent media, members of civil society and human rights defenders should be viewed as partners and as an essential element of democracy.”

The Philippines, one of the bloc’s founding states, chairs this year’s ASEAN summits. Members of the 10-nation bloc take turns at chairmanship.

Among the human rights issues hounding the region were the Philippines’ bloody “war on drugs,” the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar, the crackdown on dissenters in Vietnam and Cambodia, and junta rule in Thailand.

Myanmar State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi steps down from her plane upon arrival at Clark International Airport in Clark, Pampanga province north of Manila, Philippines Saturday, Nov. 11, 2017. Suu Kyi is one of more than a dozen leaders who will be attending the 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Summits in Manila. AP/Bullit Marquez

READ: Leaders urged to bring up regional rights issues at APEC, ASEAN

According to the UN rapporteurs, the ongoing ASEAN meetings in Manila should be used by member-states as an opportunity to “make real progress” on the region’s rights issues and to show that the bloc is “fully committed to securing human rights.”

They likewise encouraged Southeast Asian governments to see human rights monitoring and reporting, not as a threat, but as a positive tool that can help them comply with these commitments.

The statement was issued by UN special rapporteurs Annalisa Ciampi, Michel Forst, Yanghee Lee, and Agnes Callamard, who has been verbally attacked by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for criticizing Manila’s deadly drug war.

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Agnes Callamard, U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions.

Faced with strong criticism of the administration’s violent campaign against drugs, Duterte on Thursday floated the idea of calling for a global summit on human rights violations by other countries.

“Not zero in on me. Why just me? There are so many violations of human rights, including by the United States, including the continuous bombing in the Middle East killing civilians. Even of children… of their schools,” he said.

READ: Int’l watchdog reacts to Duterte’s plan to hold human rights summit


Trump administration’s lack of emphasis on human rights takes a toll in Vietnam

August 2, 2017

(Reuters) – A crackdown on communist Vietnam’s increasingly vocal dissidents has become the biggest in years and activists say authorities have been emboldened by the Trump administration’s lack of emphasis on human rights.

U.S. President Donald Trump’s early decision to drop the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal also removed a clear incentive for Hanoi to show a better rights record, they said.

The U.S. State Department, however, said it continues to insist that better bilateral ties will depend on Hanoi’s progress on human rights.

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Vietnam has stepped up measures to silence bloggers and critics whose voices over issues such as a steel mill’s toxic spill last year have been amplified by social media in a country that is among Facebook’s top 10 by users.

At least 15 people have been arrested so far in 2017 – more than in any year since a crackdown on youth activists in 2011 – according to a Reuters tally of arrests for anti-state activities reported by local and national authorities. Four dissidents — a pastor, an engineer, a journalist and a lawyer – were arrested last week.



“Civil society and the democracy and human rights movement increased quite a lot in the last few years and with social media their voices are stronger and stronger,” said Nguyen Quang A., a retired computer scientist and vocal government critic.

“That poses a problem for the leadership.”

Over the past 18 months, Nguyen said he had been detained 12 times without being charged, compared to not once in the previous 18 months.

Vietnam’s government says it is only acting against lawbreakers, with its strict curbs on freedom of speech often flouted on social media.

“All acts of violation of law are strictly treated in accordance with the provisions of Vietnamese law,” said foreign ministry spokeswoman Le Thi Thu Hang, responding to U.N. criticism of the jailing of one blogger.

Economic growth of more than 5 percent a year for over 16 years has turned Vietnam into a manufacturing powerhouse for everything from Samsung phones to Nike sneakers and brought a surge in prosperity and a revolution in social openness.

Politics has changed more gradually.


The start of the crackdown is dated by activists, diplomats and analysts to the Communist Party congress in January 2016, when the leadership balance shifted towards conservatives prioritising internal security and discipline.

“Although Vietnam has only one party as per the constitution, it actually has many factions and interest groups behind the scenes,” said activist Nguyen Lan Thang. “The political landscape is going through strong movement, not only for activists, but also within the Communist Party.”

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Nguyen Lan Thang

Indications of fissures in the ruling Communist Party Politburo came this week when the party proposed sacking a vice-minister over alleged corruption at her former role in an electricity company. Early this year, a top official was demoted and expelled from the Politburo in a rare move.

Manoeuvring had intensified ahead of the expected selection of a new General Secretary of the Communist Party, said Jonathan London of Leiden University, although no date has been set for that.

Meanwhile, activists had grown more vocal after street protests erupted last year over a toxic spill from the Taiwanese owned Formosa steel mill.

Among bloggers whose profiles rose over the Formosa protests was Ngoc Nhu Quynh – known as Mother Mushroom – who was jailed for 10 years in July. Another was Tran Thi Nga. She was given a nine-year prison sentence last month.

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Nguyen Ngoc Nhu Quynh – known as Mother Mushroom


Every activist and analyst that Reuters interviewed mentioned a perceived shift in U.S. priorities under Trump as a new factor in reducing pressure on Vietnam’s government.

Not only was Washington paying less attention to the region or to human rights, but Trump gave Vietnam less reason to show willingness to address human rights issues when he dropped the TPP trade deal, in the name of an “America First” policy.

“Vietnam now finds there is much less of a downside for cracking down the way it wanted to in the first place,” said Phil Robertson of U.S.-based Human Rights Watch, which recently reported on the beating of activists.

“Trump and his policies bear a lot of responsibility for this worsening situation.”

In May, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson signalled that the United States would de-emphasize human rights concerns in some of its interactions with other countries, saying that while U.S. values remain constant, they needed to be balanced against national security and economic interests.

The U.S. State Department said the trend of increasing arrests of activists in Vietnam since early 2016 was “deeply troubling” and it called for the release of all prisoners of conscience.

“Progress on human rights will allow the U.S.-Vietnam partnership to reach its fullest potential,” said Justin Higgins, the spokesman for the State Department’s East Asian and Pacific Affairs bureau.

(Additional reporting by Donna Airoldi in Bangkok, Yeganeh Torbati in Washington; Editing by Bill Tarrant)


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Blogger Trần Thị Nga was sentenced to nine years in prison

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Photo by Human Rights Watch: Earlier this year it seemed as if every human rights person in Vietnam was assaulted in bloody attacks — From L-R, photographs of (top) Nguyen Chi Tuyen, Nguyen Thi Thai Lai, La Viet Dung, Nguyen Van Thanh, (bottom) Tran Thi Nga, Dinh Quang Tuyen, and Le Dinh Luong after being assaulted by anonymous “thugs” in Vietnam.


Vietnam: End Attacks on Activists and Bloggers
Pattern of Thuggish Assaults Against Rights Campaigners Across Country

Turkey Seeks Detention of 189 Lawyers in Post-Coup Probe — Fethullah Gulen and users of encrypted messaging

June 14, 2017

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. AFP/File photo

ANKARA — Turkish authorities issued detention warrants for 189 lawyers as part of an investigation into followers of a Muslim cleric accused of orchestrating last July’s attempted coup, state-run Anadolu news agency said on Wednesday.

The scope of purges that have also seen more than 130 media outlets shut down and some 150 journalists jailed has unnerved rights groups and Western allies, who fear President Tayyip Erdogan is using the coup bid as a pretext to muzzle dissent.

The 189 suspects were sought by anti-terrorist police across eight provinces including Istanbul for alleged links to the network of U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, the agency said. He has denied involvement in the failed putsch.

Police have so far detained 78 of the lawyers, some believed to be users of ByLock, an encrypted messaging app the government says was used by Gulen’s followers.

Since the July coup attempt, authorities have jailed pending trial 50,000 people and sacked or suspended 150,000, including soldiers, police, teachers and public servants, over alleged links with terrorist groups, including Gulen’s network.

Erdogan says the crackdown is necessary due to the gravity of the coup attempt in which 240 people were killed.

(Reporting by Tuvan Gumrukcu; Editing by Daren Butler and Ralph Boulton)

Pakistan: Terror Attacks on Christian District and Court

September 2, 2016

BBC News

Pakistani soldiers cordon off a street leading to Christian colony following an attack by suicide bombers on the outskirts of Peshawar on September 2, 2016

Soldiers cordoned off a street following the attack on a Christian district. AFP

A suicide bomber has attacked a court in the northern Pakistani city of Mardan, killing at least 11 people and injuring nearly 30, officials say.

The attacker threw a hand grenade before running into the court area and detonating a bomb, police told the BBC.

Lawyers, police officers and civilians are said to be among the dead.

Also on Friday, four suicide bombers targeted a Christian neighbourhood near Peshawar before being shot dead by security forces.

Both attacks took place in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in north Pakistan.

No group has said it carried out the attack on the courthouse, but Taliban faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed the attack on the Christian district.

Militants have targeted lawyers in the past, including a bomb attack in Quetta last month that killed 18 lawyers. That attack was also claimed by Jamaat-ul-Ahrar.

Ijaz Khan, deputy inspector general of police for Mardan district, told reporters three lawyers and two police officers were among the dead at the courthouse.

The suicide bomber attempted to reach the court’s bar room, where several lawyers had congregated – but was shot by police before he could enter, Mr Khan said.



Map: peshawar and Mardan are west of Islamabad and near Afghanistan. One attack was near the Warsak Dam on the Kabul River approximately 20 km northwest of the city of Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.

Militant bomb attacks in northwestern Pakistan — Militant gunmen wearing suicide vests storm Christian neighborhood — Separate attackers near court detonate explosives

September 2, 2016

The Associated Press

Northwestern Pakistan was struck by two separate militant attacks on Friday, when gunmen wearing suicide vests stormed a Christian colony near the town of Peshawar, killing one civilian, and a suicide bomb attack on a district court in the town of Mardan killed 10 people and wounded 41 others.

Militants stormed the Christian neighborhood early on Friday morning, triggering a shoot-out in which four attackers were killed and one Christian died, police and the military said. Three security officials and two civilian guards were wounded in the attack.

Map: peshawar and Mardan are west of Islamabad and near Afghanistan. One attack was near the Warsak Dam on the Kabul River approximately 20 km northwest of the city of Peshawar in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan.

Army spokesman Lt. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa said in a statement that the attack was quickly repulsed and that security forces were searching for any accomplices.

Local police official Shaukat Khan said four suicide bombers entered the Christian colony. One of them went into a church, but no one was there at the time. He said the attackers killed one Christian in the neighborhood. It was not immediately clear if any of the suicide bombers had detonated their explosives.

The quick response from the local civilian guards and security forces prevented more deaths, Khan said.

Ahsanullah Ahsan, a spokesman for Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a breakaway Taliban faction, claimed responsibility for the attack.

In the town of Mardan, some 40 kilometers (25 miles) from Peshawar, a suicide bomber threw a grenade at the district court before detonating his explosives, according to government spokesman Mushtaq Ghani. He said that lawyers, policemen and passers-by were among the 10 people killed in the attack. Some of the wounded were critically injured, Ghani said.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for second attack.

Pakistan has been struck by a number of large-scale militant attacks in recent months, including a March suicide bombing targeting Christians celebrating Easter in a park in the city of Lahore that killed around 70 people. Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for the bombing and warned of further attacks.

Christians are a tiny minority in this majority Muslim nation. While some Christians live in Muslim areas, many choose to live together in Christian-only neighborhoods.

Last month, a bomb blast targeting lawyers and journalists gathering outside a hospital in the city of Quetta killed some 70 people. Jamaat-ul-Ahrar and the Islamic State group issued competing claims of responsibility for the attack.

The Pakistani army said on Thursday it had prevented IS from establishing a network in the country, saying it had arrested over 300 IS militants in recent years, including fighters from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.

On Friday, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif issued statements condemning both attacks, saying “these cowardly attacks cannot shatter our unflinching resolve in our war against terrorism.”


Associated Press writers Munir Ahmed in Islamabad and Ishtiaq Mahsud in Dera Ismail Khan contributed to this report.


Pakistan: Two explosions kill at least 12 people, many lawyers, 52 wounded outside a district court

September 2, 2016


PESHAWAR, Pakistan: At least 12 people were killed and 52 wounded when two bomb blasts were detonated outside a district court in northwestern Pakistan on Friday, a rescue official said.

“So far we recovered 12 bodies of the lawyers, police personnel and civilians. Besides this, we rescued 52 injured, including lawyers, police personnel and civilians from the spot,” Haris Habib, chief rescue officer in the city of Mardan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where the blasts took place, told Reuters.

(Reporting by Jibran Ahmad: writing by Drazen Jorgic)

China’s Human Rights Lawyers Need Our Support

August 12, 2016

Chinese human rights lawyers. Photo taken before several wer jailed.

Sir, – China’s expressed goal of achieving a system of government based on the rule of law must be encouraged.

In all cultures courageous lawyers perform an essential role in protecting basic rights integral to the rule of law. Yet in China, human-rights lawyers have been detained, intimidated, or disappeared.

For example, the lawyer Zhou Shefeng, who represented activists and families taking legal action over tainted baby formula, has been sentenced to seven years in prison for the crime of subverting state power.

The notion that defending human rights amounts to the vague and overbroad crime of subverting state power or inciting the subversion of state power is antithetical to the rule of law.

Concern must be heightened because the use of torture and ill-treatment is a feature of the Chinese criminal-justice system.

Ireland’s embassy in China has expressed the Irish Government’s concern about the Chinese government’s behaviour.

Shouldn’t the legal professions, law schools, law firms, and China-oriented businesses be more publicly active in defending the human rights of China’s rule-of-law defenders? Surely morals come before money. – .

Yours, etc,
Dublin 16.



Quetta, Pakistan Experiences Another Bombing — Wounding Police in Police Convoy For A Judge — Wounded 13 People

August 11, 2016

Thu Aug 11, 2016 2:01am EDT

Several people are reportedly injured in the incident.

A roadside bomb hit a Pakistani security vehicle and wounded 13 people on Thursday in the southwestern Pakistani city of Quetta, days after a suicide bombing at a hospital killed at least 74 people, most of them lawyers, officials and media said.

Home Minister Safaraz Bugti said the homemade bomb targeted police personnel escorting a judge, who was not hurt in the attack, in the frontier city.

“It was a judge’s car that was passing, but I believe it was the police who were the target,” he said on Pakistani TV.

“It was a remote-controlled device with 3-4 kg of explosives … I think these kinds of cowardly acts will not reduce our morale,” Bugti said.

Medical Superintendent Abdul Rehman Miankhel told Reuters that 13 wounded people, including four members of the security forces, were being treated at the Civil Hospital, the same facility hit by Monday’s suicide attack.

An announcer for Geo TV warned viewers not to gather at the scene on Zarghoon Road in central Quetta for fear of a second bombing like the one on Monday. That attack hit a large group of lawyers gathered at the hospital to mourn the head of the Baluchistan bar association who was shot dead earlier that day.

“Care must be taken that a rush not be created at the scene as the terrorists have reached the point of barbarity where they target crowds like this,” the news announcer said.

Monday’s hospital suicide bombing was Pakistan’s deadliest attack this year. It was claimed by both a faction of the Pakistani Taliban, Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, and also by the Islamic State militant group, which has been seeking to recruit followers in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Targeted killings have become increasingly common in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province that has seen rising violence linked to a separatist insurgency as well as sectarian tensions and rising crime.

(Reporting by Gul Yusufzai and Asad Hashim; Writing by Kay Johnson; Editing by Paul Tait)

See also:


Lawyers say prayers for colleagues who were killed in the suicide bomb attack at a hospital in Quetta on Monday, after protesting against the attack, outside the Supreme Court in Islamabad, Pakistan August 9, 2016. REUTERS/CAREN FIROUZ

Mourners on Monday after the hospital attack in Quetta. The blast occurred shortly after the body of a prominent lawyer, killed by gunmen earlier in the day, had been transferred to the hospital.Credit: Banaras Khan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


People help victims of a bomb blast in Quetta, Pakistan, Monday, Aug. 8, 2016. A powerful bomb went off on the grounds of a government-run hospital Monday, killing dozens of people, police said, August 8, 2016. Photo: Arshad Butt, AP

Pakistan: Suicide bomb attack Monday at Quetta decimated the leadership of legal community — “It will take centuries for us to make up this loss”

August 10, 2016
Wed Aug 10, 2016 10:43am EDT

Lawyers say prayers for colleagues who were killed in the suicide bomb attack at a hospital in Quetta on Monday, after protesting against the attack, outside the Supreme Court in Islamabad, Pakistan August 9, 2016. REUTERS/CAREN FIROUZ

Pakistani lawyer Ataullah Lango had just arrived at the Civil Hospital in the southwestern city of Quetta to mourn the slain head of his provincial bar association when he heard a loud explosion and felt the pain of glass stabbing his face.

He lost some 60 colleagues in the suicide bombing that decimated the leadership of this tight-knit legal fraternity, probably for years.

“The cream of our legal fraternity has been martyred,” Lango told Reuters at the house of the slain bar president.

“Our senior leaders … are now gone.”

Pakistan has endured a wave of militant attacks in recent years, but lawyers have not been singled out on such a scale before.

That changed on Monday when a suicide bomber struck a crowd of lawyers who had crammed into a hospital emergency department to accompany the body of Bilal Anwar Kasi, president of the 3,000-member Baluchistan Bar Association.

At least 74 people were killed, most of them lawyers, in Pakistan’s worst bombing this year, claimed by both a faction of the Pakistani Taliban, Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, and the Middle East-based Islamic State.

Across Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province surrounded by mountains, lawyers gathered for funeral prayers on Wednesday, visited families of lost friends, shouted slogans at protests and urged the government to protect them better.

Baluchistan is no stranger to violence, with separatist fighters launching regular attacks on security forces for nearly a decade and the military striking back.

Islamist militants, particularly sectarian groups, have also launched a campaign of suicide bombings and assassinations of minority Shi’ites.

After Monday’s attack, the legal community in Baluchistan and across the country said it felt leaderless but also vowed unity.

Kasi’s younger brother, Shoaib Kasi, himself an attorney, said the attacker had “pre-planned” to first kill the bar association president and then target the hospital, knowing that mourners would gather there.

“It will take centuries for us to make up this loss,” lawyer Abdul Aziz Lehri told Reuters at the district court building, largely deserted due to a strike by his colleagues.

The president of the Supreme Court Bar Association, Ali Zafar, called the attack a “turning point”, and gave the government until Thursday to present a security plan to protect lawyers and other “soft targets”.


Emotions ran high at a press conference where lawyers expressed anger, particularly against the country’s powerful military, but also voiced defiance.

“We are not tense because of the terrorists,” said senior lawyer Manzoor ul Hassan. “We have sadness, of course, but no fear.”

Lawyers have held a special place in Pakistan’s democratic process.

A lawyers’ movement emerged as the vanguard of a campaign against the then army chief Pervez Musharraf after he suspended the country’s top judge in 2007 for opposing plans to extend the general’s term in office.

Lawyers organized convoys traveling from city to city to support ousted chief justice Iftikhar Chaudhry, and the government was forced to re-instate him.

Musharraf emerged from the confrontation a much diminished figured and stepped down as president in 2008.

“Lawyers were the targets, because we fight for the rights of the people,” Ali Zafar told the press conference. “They think we will be weakened … I say we will become stronger.”

Prominent lawyer Ali Ahmed Kurd said those left would carry the torch.

“The juniors who are left, they are filled with the passion for working hard, for honesty … that will make up the difference,” Kurd told Reuters in Quetta.

But he added that the lawyers of Baluchistan were afraid to call a meeting of the bar association to map out the legal fraternity’s next steps.

“If you convene a meeting now, who will come?” Kurd said. “There’s no one. None is left.”

(Writing by Mehreen Zahra-Malik; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

Pakistani lawyers go on strike after dozens killed in attack

August 9, 2016
Tue Aug 9, 2016 9:27am EDT

Lawyers say prayers for colleagues who were killed in the suicide bomb attack at a hospital in Quetta on Monday, after protesting against the attack, outside the Supreme Court in Islamabad, Pakistan August 9, 2016. REUTERS/CAREN FIROUZ

Pakistani lawyers staged a nationwide strike on Tuesday after dozens of colleagues were slain in a suicide bombing that killed at least 70 people at a hospital in the southwestern city of Quetta.

Medical staff said up to 60 of those slain in the bombing 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.

Islamic State was one of two Islamist militant groups to claim responsibility for the atrocity, although officials and analysts said they had doubts over whether the Middle East-based movement was behind the blast.

It was the latest, and deadliest, in a string of attacks against lawyers in Pakistan, seen by some militants as an extension of the government and so legitimate targets.

“How weak and pathetic are these people who target hospitals, where women and children, where patients, go to get treatment?” Ashtar Ausaf Ali, Pakistan’s attorney general, said on Tuesday at a protest outside the Supreme Court in the capital Islamabad.

Supreme Court Bar President Ali Zafar called for the government to do more to protect lawyers.

“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.

“An attack on lawyers makes a mockery of the law enforcement agencies, it undermines the promises of the state against terrorists and breeds fear among vulnerable citizens.”


The bombing in Quetta, the provincial capital of Baluchistan province, was initially claimed by Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, a faction of the Pakistani Taliban that is fighting to overthrow the government and impose strict Islamic law.

Later, however, Islamic State said one of its fighters carried out the attack, in what would mark an escalation in the ability of the group, or its regional offshoots, to strike in Pakistan.

“A martyr from the Islamic State detonated his explosive belt at a gathering of justice ministry employees and Pakistani policemen in the city of Quetta,” Islamic State’s Amaq news agency reported.

Some Pakistani analysts were skeptical.

“The ISIS claim seems very unconvincing,” said Imtiaz Gul, director of the Center for Research and Security Studies in Islamabad.

“The claim of responsibility by Jamaat-ur-Ahrar is more credible,” said Muhammad Amir Rana, head of the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies.

He noted that Jamaat had sworn loyalty to Islamic State’s Middle East leadership in 2014, but later switched back to the Taliban.

“Every time they have carried out an attack, they have taken responsibility independently (of Islamic State),” Rana said.

It remains unclear what ties, if any, Jamaat has to Islamic State, whose leadership is a rival to both the Taliban and al Qaeda over claims to represent the true Islamist Caliphate.

In September 2014, Jamaat-ur-Ahrar rejected the Pakistani Taliban during a leadership struggle and swore allegiance to Islamic State, also known as Daesh.

By March 2015, the group was again swearing loyalty to the main Pakistani Taliban. The reason for its return to the fold remains murky, but Jamaat also never specifically disavowed Islamic State.

Only last week, Jamaat was added to the United States’ list of global terrorists, triggering sanctions.

Baluchistan, which borders Afghanistan, is home to many militant groups, most notably sectarian outfits who have launched a campaign of suicide bombings and assassinations of ethnic Hazaras – Persian-speaking Shi’ites who mostly emigrated from Afghanistan and are a small minority of the Shi’ite population in Sunni-majority Pakistan.

“Many groups based in Baluchistan have an anti-Shia agenda, so they find ideological linkages with ISIS,” said a military official who was based in Quetta until 2015.

“But is ISIS present there to a degree that they can carry out this kind of well-planned, pre-meditated attack? I don’t think that is possible.”

(Additional reporting by Syed Raza Hassan; writing by Kay Johnson and Mehreen Zahra-Malik; editing by Mike Collett-White)


Mourners on Monday after the hospital attack in Quetta. The blast occurred shortly after the body of a prominent lawyer, killed by gunmen earlier in the day, had been transferred to the hospital.Credit: Banaras Khan/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images


People help victims of a bomb blast in Quetta, Pakistan, Monday, Aug. 8, 2016. A powerful bomb went off on the grounds of a government-run hospital Monday, killing dozens of people, police said, August 8, 2016. Photo: Arshad Butt, AP