A powerful explosion triggered by a suicide bomber killed at least 44 people and injured nearly 100 others on Sunday at a rally of a hard-line Islamic party in the restive tribal district of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which borders Afghanistan. The blast occurred at 4 pm at a convention of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) workers in Khar, the capital of Bajaur tribal district.
At least 44 people were killed and nearly 100 injured in the blast, police sources said. Saad Khan, district emergency officer in the Bajaur region, said Maulana Ziaullah Jan, a local JUI-F leader, was also killed in the blast, one of the worst in recent years.
Rescue workers said they feared the death toll would rise
Television footage showed terrified people gathering at the scene after the blast as ambulances arrived to take the injured to hospitals.Over 500 people attended the convention. A bomb disposal squad official said the initial investigation report confirmed that it was a suicide blast in which 12 kg of explosives were used.
Police DIG Malakand Range Nasir Mehmud Satti said initial investigations indicated that it was a suicide blast. However, evidence is being collected to determine the nature of the explosion.
PM Shehbaz Sharif strongly condemned the blast
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif strongly condemned the blast at the JUI-F convention. According to him, the terrorists targeted those who defended the cause of Islam, the Holy Quran and Pakistan. Terrorists are enemies of Pakistan and will be eliminated. The elements involved in the incident will be punished severely, he said.
President Arif Alvi prayed for eternal peace for the departed souls and sympathized with the bereaved families. He also wished the injured a speedy recovery and emphasized the timely provision of medical assistance.
Home Minister Rana Sanaullah promised to bring the perpetrators of today’s attack to justice. “The cowardly acts of terrorists cannot spoil our mood,” he wrote on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman asked Prime Minister Sharif and provincial chief minister Azam Khan to investigate the incident. He also urged party workers to reach the hospital and donate blood.
Chief Minister Khan condemned the blast and sought a report from the district administration. Police said the injured were taken to a nearby hospital. JUI-F leader Hafiz Hamdullah said he was supposed to attend the convention today but could not due to some personal commitments. “I strongly condemn the blast and want to send a message to the people behind it that it is not jihad but terrorism,” the JUI-F leader said, adding that it was an attack on humanity and Bajaur.
Hamdullah also expressed his condolences to the bereaved families and urged the provincial government to provide the best medical facilities to the injured.
Provincial Information Minister Jamal Feroze Shah said a state of emergency has been declared in hospitals in Peshawar and Dir districts. The US expressed its deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of those killed and injured in the suicide blast and pledged its support to Pakistan’s efforts to fight terrorism.
Pakistan has seen an increase in terrorist attacks since the return of the Afghan Taliban to power in August 2021 and has called on the interim rulers to take decisive action against terrorists, including the Tehrik-e Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which is responsible for cross-border attacks.
Meanwhile, Zabihullah Mujahid, a spokesman for the Taliban government in Afghanistan, condemned the attack. TTP spokesman Khalid Khurrasani condemned the blast.