PESHAWAR: At least 44 people were killed and dozens more wounded Sunday by a bomb blast at a political gathering of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F (JUI-F) workers convention in Khar tehsil of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Bajaur district, officials said.
The blast targeted the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F (JUI-F) party when more than 400 members and supporters gathered under a tent in the town of Khar, near the border with Afghanistan.
“I can confirm that in the hospital we have 40 dead bodies, with 123 wounded that includes 17 patients in a serious condition,” Riaz Anwar, the health minister for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, told AFP.
Governor Haji Ghulam Ali confirmed the death toll to AFP.
Afghanistan’s administration condemned the explosion in a statement by their spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid.
Images from the blast site circulating on social media showed bodies strewn around the scene, and volunteers helping blood-soaked victims to ambulances.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but the local chapter of the Islamic State (IS) group has recently carried out attacks against JUI-F.
Last year, IS said it was behind violent attacks against religious scholars affiliated with the party, which has a huge network of mosques and madrassas in the north and west of the country.
The jihadist group accuses JUI-F of hypocrisy for being a religious Islamic group that has supported successive governments and the military.
Security has since improved with the northwest brought under the control of Pakistani authorities after the passage of legislation in 2018.
Analysts say militants in the former tribal areas adjacent to Peshawar and bordering Afghanistan have become emboldened since the return of the Afghan Taliban.
Government is due to dissolve in the next few weeks ahead of elections expected in October or November and political parties are preparing to campaign.—AFP
APP ADDS: Army choppers have started a relief operation by airlifting the injured person to Combined Military Hospital (CMH) Peshawar, Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) and Hayatabad Medical Complex (HMC) Hospital, which are kept on emergency.
The Army choppers are being used to airlift the injured from district headquarters Khar to Peshawar.
However, Information Minister Barrister Feroz Jamal confirmed that more than 200 people were injured, 15 are in critical condition and are being airlifted to CMH Peshawar.
Pakistan army helicopter is being provided from Khar to Peshawar for seriously injured people and IGFC Major General Noor Wali reached Bajaur to supervise the activities. A total of 17 injured were shifted to Timergara Hospital while the rest of them are being shifted to Bajaur, Peshawar, CMH Peshawar and HMC. The alert call was issued to CMH and LRH in Peshawar.
Rescue operations are underway by security forces and other law enforcement agencies as well. The area was cordoned off and the investigation was started. Security forces continue to donate blood to the injured, a doctor at Bajaur Hospital told APP.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2023