Death toll rises in Pak suicide bombing

The death toll in a devastating suicide bombing outside a Shia mosque in Kurram tribal region of northwest Pakistan today rose to 36, as shops and markets in the region remained closed as a protest against the attack for which the local Taliban claimed responsibility.

Twenty-six people were killed in the attack in Parachinar town yesterday and 10 more people succumbed to their injuries in hospital overnight, officials said today.

Over 50 people were injured in the blast and several of them were in a critical condition.At least three other persons were killed when police opened fire yesterday on a group that was protesting against the suicide attack. Several persons were injured in the firing and a baton charge by police, local residents said.

The dead were buried today as markets and business hubs in Kurram Agency remained shut as a protest against the attack. A faction of the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack, with a commander telling reporters that the Shia community was targeted because it was allegedly involved in activities against the militants.

The head of the bomber was found on the roof of a house in Kurmi Bazar of Parachinar and tribal elders said he did not appear to be a local resident. Hundreds of people have died in clashes between rival Shia and Sunni tribesmen in Kurram Agency over the past four years. The situation in the region was exacerbated after Taliban fighters began backing the Sunni tribesmen.

Kurram Agency is the only part of Pakistan's restive tribal belt bordering Afghanistan that has a sizeable Shia population. Allama Nawaz Irfani, the cleric of the Jamia Masjid in Parachinar, has called for three days of mourning to protest the attack.

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