At least 70 people died when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives, tearing through a crowd of mourners gathered at a Pakistani hospital on Monday, in an attack claimed by both the Taliban and DAESH.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called for security forces to "decimate" terrorists after the blast at the Civil Hospital in the Balochistan provincial capital Quetta, which also wounded more than 100 people.
Video footage showed bodies strewn on the ground among pools of blood and shattered glass as shocked survivors cried and tried to comfort one another.
The bomber struck a crowd of some 200 people that had gathered to mourn the death of a senior local lawyer who had been assassinated earlier in the day.
Many of the victims were clad in the black suits and ties traditionally worn by Pakistani lawyers.
An AFP journalist was about 20 metres (70 feet) away when the bomb went off.
"There were huge black clouds and dirt," he said. "I ran back to the place and saw dead bodies scattered everywhere and many injured people crying.
"There were pools and pools of blood around and pieces of human bodies and flesh."
Nurses and lawyers wept as medics from inside the hospital rushed out to help dozens of injured, he said.
Pervez Masi, who was injured by pieces of flying glass, said the blast was so powerful that "we didn't know what had happened".
"So many friends were martyred," he said. "Whoever is doing this is not human, he is a beast and has no humanity."
— Syeda Bushra Aamir (@BushraAamir) August 8, 2016
DAESH, Taliban claim attack
Bomb disposal unit chief Abdul Razzaq told AFP it was a suicide attack. "The bomber had strapped some eight kilograms (18 pounds) of explosives packed with ball bearings and shrapnel on his body," he said.
The head of the provincial health department, doctor Masood Nausherwani, gave a death toll of 70, with 112 injured.
A breakaway faction of the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, claimed responsibility for both the assassination of the lawyer and the blast at the hospital.
Hours later, the DAESH terrorist group also said it was behind the blast, which it claimed killed 200 people, the SITE monitoring agency reported.
Sharif, who flew to Quetta just after the attack, said "all state security institutions must respond with full might to decimate these terrorists".
The bombing targeted a crowd made up mainly of lawyers and journalists who had gone to the hospital to mourn the president of the Balochistan Bar Association, who was shot dead on Monday.
A very dearest friend Cameraman of Aaj Tv Shahzad Khan among the 40 murdered in#Quettasuicidebombing. pic.twitter.com/vY5t14sAtA
— Shezad Baloch (@Shezadbaloch) August 8, 2016
Bilal Anwar Kasi was attacked by two unidentified gunmen as he left his home for work.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack, saying it was "particularly appalling" that it targeted mourners at a hospital.
— UN Spokesperson (@UN_Spokesperson) August 8, 2016
France's President Francois Hollande denounced the "abominable act", while the European Union said there was "no justification for such acts of terrorism".
The US joined the chorus of condemnation, which the State Department said had targeted "two of the most important pillars of every democracy" — the judiciary and the media.
Pakistani hospitals have been targeted by militants previously.
Quetta has seen increasing violence linked to a separatist insurgency as well as sectarian tensions and rising crime.
Balochistan, which is rich in gas and minerals, is also a strategically important region.
China – renowned for its long-term planning – has invested heavily in the province, including building a deep water port at Gwadar on the Arabian Sea and the $46 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor, to give it access to Gulf oil supplies.
Balochistan, which is Pakistan's largest but least populated and developed province, also shares a border with Iran and a porous, disputed border with Afghanistan
Afghanistan has blocked repeated attempts by Pakistan to build a fence on sections of the roughly 2,200-km (1,370-mile)-long frontier, rejecting the contours of the boundary.