25 killed, 50 injured in market blast in Pak's Kurram agency

25 killed, 50 injured in market blast in Pak's Kurram agency

25 killed, 50 injured in market blast in Pak's Kurram agency
A powerful explosion today ripped through a crowded vegetable market in minority Shias dominated Parachinar in northwest Pakistan's restive Kurram tribal agency, killing at least 25 people and injuring 50 others. The blast - claimed by Tehrik-i-Taliban - occurred at the market inside Eidgah Bazaar in Parachinar, the administrative headquarters of the agency near the Afghan border.

Citing the political administration in Kurram agency, Geo TV said that at least 25 people were killed in the blast. However, in a brief statement the military said that 20 people have been killed in the attack. Initial report suggests that explosives kept in a vegetable crate exploded during auction of the vegetables, officials said. The injured were shifted to Parachinar headquarters hospital where there is a shortage of doctors and medical facilities. At least 10 patients were said to be in critical condition.

A statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said the improvised explosive device (IED) blast took place at 08:50 AM in the vegetable market. "Army and FC Quick Response officials have reached the blast site and cordoned off the area. Army helicopters have been flown in for medical evacuation of the injured," it said.

Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan condemned the attack and ordered a detailed report regarding the incident. Muttahida Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen, a Shia political organisation, announced three days of mourning over the blast. According to officials, the death toll is expected to rise as the market was crowded due to early morning rush. Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan spokesman Umer Khurasani has claimed responsibility for the blast. He said the blast was to avenge the killing of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi chief Asif Chotu.

Asif, who was on Pakistan's most wanted terrorist list and carried a bounty of Rs 3,000,000 on his head, was killed along with three aides in an encounter near Lahore on Tuesday. He was directly involved in killing over 100 citizens of Pakistan in Punjab, Sindh, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan. Indirectly, he was involved in killing of over 200 people.

LeJ was founded in 1996 as a militant offshoot of Sipah-i-Sahaba, a Sunni sectarian group that emerged in the mid-1980s. LeJ has claimed responsibility for the deaths of hundreds of civilians, mostly minority Shia Muslims. Opposition Pakistan People's Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari condemned the blast and said that "in order to defeat terrorism people will have to support the PPP."

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chairman Imran Khan said that attack on unarmed civilians is not acceptable. "The terrorists should be tried and the victims be given justice," he said. Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervaiz Khatakk and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif condemned the attack. Parachinar has a sizeable Shia population and in the past the minority community was targeted through bombings. In December 2015, a similar blast at the Eidgah Market killed 25 people and injured 70 others.

Kurram is one of the most sensitive tribal areas as it borders three Afghan provinces and at one point was one of the key routes for militant movement across the border. It has witnessed scores of attacks.