By Aamir Latif
Karachi, (AA): At least 20 people were killed and over 50 injured in a bomb blast in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal region near Afghanistan border on Saturday morning, a Pakistan army spokesman said. Hours after the incident, the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban claimed responsibility for the blast.
The improvised explosive device (IED) bomb was planted under a sack of fruits at a vegetable and fruit market [called Eidgah market] in far flung Kurram Agency’s Parachinar – the only Shia dominated tribal area in Sunni majority Pakistan – and detonated with a remote control, Major General Asif Ghafoor said. A large number of people were present at the Sabzi Mandi, which is located inside the Eidgah market.
Army troops backed by helicopters were called in to join the rescue and relief operations, Ghafoor added.
The injured, many of them critically, were taken to the local hospital, where shortage of doctors and equipment forced the administration to airlift several of them to Peshawar in army helicopters.
Dr Sabir Hussain at the Parachinar main hospital said 11 critically wounded people died during treatment. He said there are still several people in serious condition who are being shifted to other hospitals for better care.
Government official Shahid Khan said the explosion took place when the market was crowded with retailers buying fruits and vegetables.
In December, 2015 a similar blast in a makeshift market in Parachinar had killed 25 people. Two militant groups, Lashkar-i-Jhangvi Al Alami and Ansarul Mujahideen based in South Waziristan Agency, had claimed responsibility for that blast.
Amid ongoing military operations in the tribal region, more than 4500 suspected terrorists and over 500 troops have been killed mainly in North Waziristan and Khyber Agency areas, in clashes and landmine blasts since June 2014, according to statistics released by the interior ministry. The army operation also displaced nearly a million tribesmen from North Waziristan, of them around 30 per cent have managed to return.
Additional reporting by Agencies and The Muslim news
[Map of Pakistan By NWFP FATA Pahari SahibGNU/ Free Documentation License]