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According to police in Pakistan’s restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa region, an initial investigation indicates that the outlawed terrorist organisation ISIS is behind a suicide bombing on a political convention of a hardline Islamist party that killed at least 44 people and injured more than 100.
The incident occurred on Sunday, when around 400 members of the conservative Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) organisation, renowned for its ties to radical political Islam, gathered for a gathering beneath a canopy in the Afghan border town of Khar.
“We are still investigating the Bajaur blast and gathering information.” “The preliminary investigation reveals that the banned organisation Daesh (ISIS) was involved,” police officials told Geo News.
The police claimed they were gathering information on the suicide bomber, while the bomb disposal team was collecting evidence from the scene.
According to District Police Officer Nazir Khan, three suspects have been apprehended.
The attack employed 10 kilogrammes of explosives detonated by a suicide bomber, according to provincial police head Akhtar Hayat Khan. He said the bomber was among those in the convention’s front rows.
According to local authorities, the assailant exploded explosives near the convention’s stage.
According to police and witnesses, the explosion happened just as JUI-F District Amir Maulana Abdul Rasheed arrived on stage.
JUI-F Tehsil Khar General Secretary Maulana Ziaullah Jan, Navagai Tehsil General Secretary Maulana Hameedullah, District Information Secretary Mujahid Khan, and scores of party workers were among those killed.
Riaz Anwar, interim health minister of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP), claimed on Sunday night that 44 people were killed and more than 100 were injured in the incident.
An emergency has been declared at the hospitals of Bajaur and surrounding districts, where the majority of the injured have been sent. Military helicopters carried the seriously injured from Bajaur to hospitals in the provincial capital of Peshawar.
More Than 150 People Injured
More than 150 wounded persons were transported to the Bajaur District Headquarters Hospital, according to Bajaur District Health Officer Dr Faisal Kamal.
“Over 35 people have been referred to the Timargarh hospital, and 15 critically injured people have been flown to Peshawar via a Pakistan Army helicopter,” he said, according to the Dawn newspaper.
Rescuers have cautioned that the death toll might increase higher because 15 people are critically injured.
The bomb has been fiercely criticised by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, who has stated that those guilty would be found and punished.
“The Pakistani nation, law enforcement agencies, and our protectors will never allow such cowardly tactics of the enemy to succeed,” he said in a tweet.
Sharif expressed his condolences to JUI-F chairman Maulana Fazlur Rehman.
“We are both equally involved in your grief.” “The criminals will be truly punished, and putting an end to terrorism is a commitment shared by the entire nation,” he added.
He ordered a probe into the event and directed that the seriously ill people be airlifted to other hospitals.
Pakistan President Arif Alvi expressed condolences to the deceased families and prayed for eternal peace for the fallen souls. He also wished the injured a quick recovery and highlighted the importance of prompt medical attention.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa interim Chief Minister Azam Khan requested a full report on the bombing from police in a statement published on Sunday.
He also went to the Combined Military Hospital in Peshawar, where he spoke with injured people and enquired about their condition.
According to Rahim Shah, a witness, more than 500 individuals were present at the gathering when the incident happened.
“We were listening to a bayan [sermon] when a powerful explosion knocked me unconscious,” he recalled.
When Shah regained consciousness, there was blood everywhere, according to Shah.
“People were screaming, and there were even shots fired,” he continued.
Sabeehullah, a 24-year-old JUI-F supporter whose arm was shattered in the bomb, described the extent of the injuries as “horrifying.”
“There was complete chaos, with human flesh, limbs, and body parts strewn about alongside lifeless bodies.” I was laying next to someone who had lost all of their limbs. “The smell of human flesh filled the air,” he was quoted as saying in the article.
The JUI-F chairman expressed his sorrow over the event in a statement released by the party’s media unit. He demanded that Prime Minister Sharif and the KP government conduct an investigation into the incident.
“May Allah raise the ranks of martyrs,” Fazl added, praying for the injured to recover quickly.
He also urged JUI-F employees to go to hospitals right away and donate blood.
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah promised in a tweet that the culprits of today’s crime will be brought to justice.
“The cowardly acts of terrorists cannot dampen our spirits,” he declared.
Former Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his sympathies to the victims’ families after learning of the bombing.
“The rise in terror incidents across Pakistan, particularly in KP, calls for an urgent need to reconsider our priorities,” he added, adding that authorities should focus on eradicating terrorism.
Taliban Connection in Pakistan Bomb Attacks
The Taliban leadership in Afghanistan’s spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid, has denounced the attack. The bomb was also denounced by TTP spokesperson Khalid Khurrasani.
Following the Taliban’s restoration to power in Afghanistan in August 2021, Pakistan has seen an increase in terrorist strikes.
A Pakistan Taliban suicide bomber blew himself up during afternoon prayers at a mosque in Peshawar on January 30, killing 101 people and injured over 200 more.
In February, heavily armed TTP militants assaulted the Karachi Police Chief’s office, resulting in shooting that killed three rebels and four others, including two police constables.