Mayhem follows a suicide bombing in Quetta. (AP/Arshad Butt)
Mayhem follows a suicide bombing in Quetta. (AP/Arshad Butt)

Journalist, media worker dead in Quetta attack

New York, September 7, 2010–The Committee to Protect Journalists mourns the deaths of a cameraman and media support worker who suffered fatal injuries during violence on Friday in Quetta, the capital of Pakistan’s restive Baluchistan province. 

A suicide bomber detonated explosives during a Shiite demonstration, triggering gunfire and other violence, according to local and international media reports. Mohammad Sarwar, a driver for Aaj TV, died in the violence, although local news reports conflicted as to the cause. Eight other journalists were reported injured. Ejaz Raisani, a cameraman for Samaa TV, died of gunshot wounds on Monday morning, local reports said.

In all, more than 60 people were killed and 185 injured. The stampede of people fleeing the scene added to the death toll, according to local and international media reports.

The Pakistani Taliban and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi each claimed responsibility for Saturday’s suicide bombing, one in a series of recent attacks targeting Shiite gatherings. The attack on Saturday was aimed at a Shiite rally marking Al Quds Day, an annual protest expressing solidarity with Palestinians, according news reports. The suicide bombing set off further violence, including gunfire, clashes with police, and arsons of cars and motorcycles. Some news reports linked the gunfire to the surviving protesters.

“We extend our condolences to the families of Mohammad Sarwar and Ejaz Raisani, as well as all the other journalists who were injured,” said Bob Dietz, CPJ’s Asia program coordinator. “As Pakistan’s internal unrest escalates, the country has become an increasingly dangerous place for journalists to work. The events in Quetta and their deadly aftermath are only the most recent in a string of attacks putting journalists at ever-increasing risk.”

Media reports said that 12 suspects have been taken into custody. Baluchistan Chief Minister Nawab Aslam Raisani has formed a judicial tribunal to investigate the attack, as well as a ministerial commission to review law and order, local media reports said.