At least 39 people died and dozens more were injured on Sunday due to the explosion of a bomb at a political meeting of a radical Islamic party in northwest Pakistanaccording to official sources.
The explosion targeted the match Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F (JUI-F) when more than 400 members and supporters gathered under a tent at the Khar citynear the border with Afghanistan.
“I can confirm that in the hospital there are 39 bodies and 123 injured, 17 of them in serious condition”, declared to AFP Riaz Anwar, minister of Health of the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
The provincial governor, Haji Ghulam Ali, confirmed the death toll to AFP.
The images of the place of the explosion that circulate through social networks show corpses scattered around the place and volunteers helping blood-soaked victims into ambulances.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but the group’s local branch Islamic State has recently perpetrated attacks against the JUI-F.
Last year, ISIS claimed to be behind violent attacks against religious scholars affiliated with the party, which has a huge network of mosques and madrasahs in the north and west of the country.
The jihadist group accuses the JUI-F of hypocrisy for being a religious Islamic group that has supported successive governments and the military.
Pakistan has seen a sharp increase in attacks since the Afghan Taliban regained power in neighboring Afghanistan in 2021.
Pakistan’s indigenous Taliban group, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, has targeted security officials, including police officers.
In January, a suicide bomber linked to the Pakistani Taliban blew himself up at a mosque inside a police compound in the northwestern city of Peshawar, killing more than 80 officers.
The militants’ attacks have focused on regions bordering Afghanistan, with Islamabad alleging some are planned on Afghan soil, a charge Kabul denies.
Bajaur is one of seven remote districts bordering Afghanistan in a region that was once a focal point in the global war on terror. Once plagued by almost daily bombings, a major military clean-up operation beginning in 2014 largely restored order.
Security has since improved with the northwest placed under the control of the Pakistani authorities following the passage of legislation in 2018.
According to analysts, militants in the former tribal areas adjacent to Peshawar and bordering Afghanistan have been emboldened since the return of the Afghan Taliban.
Pakistan’s government is due to be dissolved in the coming weeks before elections scheduled for October or November and political parties are preparing to campaign.
(With information from AFP)
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