At least 25 people were killed and 65 others were injured when a powerful car bomb ripped through a crowded market outside a Shiite congregation hall in Pakistan’s northwest tribal region of Parachinar.
The attack was claimed by the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a breakaway faction of the Pakistani Taliban.
The car bomb went off near the main gate of the imambargah, a congregation hall, in the central bazar of Parachinar, Kurram Agency where several people were buying groceries.
The death toll may further rise as several of those injured are said to be critical. 27 of the injured were airlifted to hospitals in Peshawar.
An eyewitness told The Express Tribune that security personnel were busy checking devotees at the Imambargah’s entrance, when an unidentified person parked a car next to the building which exploded.
Security forces cordoned off the area as the emergency services were dispatched for the site. The administration declared an emergency at all hospitals in the area.
An Army medical evacuation helicopter was also flown to Parachinar for evacuation of the injured, an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) statement said.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed grief over the blast and condemned the attack.
“It is our responsibility to continue the war against terrorists,” he said.
“The network of terrorists has already been broken and it is our national duty to continue this war until the complete annihilation of the scourge of terrorism from our soil,” he added.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar ordered an inquiry into the blast.
Pakistan has been rocked by a slew of terror attacks that have claimed scores of lives.
A wave of suicide attacks across Pakistan last month, including one in Lahore and another on the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in Sindh, killed more than 125 people and wounded over 300 others.
Pakistani forces retaliated with a crackdown, killing dozens of terrorists and hitting militant hideouts along the border with Afghanistan.
Pakistan army also launched a nationwide military operation ‘Radd-ul-Fasaad’ to eliminate terrorists and consolidate gains of its counter-terrorism operations.
(With inputs from agencies)