At least 27 people were killed and over 100 injured in a high intensity blast outside a Shia mosque (Imambargah) for women in Pakistan’s northwestern region on Friday.
The blast took place in a busy marketplace in Parachinar city, close to Afghanistan’s border. Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a banned group linked to Pakistani Taliban, has claimed responsibility for the attack, which came after Pakistani army launched a nationwide offensive ‘Radd-ul-Fasaad’ to root out terrorism.
“It was a suicide attack preceded by gunfire. The target was a women’s mosque,” a parliamentarian from the region Sajid Hussain Turi said, while criticising the government’s claims of success in its war against terrorism.
Sources said the origin of the blast was an explosivepacked car parked outside the Imambargah entrance. The blast caused several buildings’ roofs to cave in, trapping victims under the debris.
Rescue operations continued for several hours, and the country’s military had to airlift over two dozen critically injured people to Peshawar for treatment.
Kamran Ali, who was hospitalised with a head injury from the explosion, said he was sitting inside his shop when the blast took place, traumatising him.
“My shop partially collapsed and I was unable to move for the next 30 minutes or so, and then residents brought me to hospital,” he said. He said the site of the blast was littered with glass from broken windows and blood spattered all around.
“Shias were the apparent target of the attack,” said government administrator Zahid Hussain. This is one of the worst instance of sectarian violence after the February 16 attack on Lal Shabaz Qalandar’s shrine in Sindh province.
Over 80 people were killed and several hundred injured in the suicide attack claimed by the so-called Islamic State.
PM Nawaz Sharif condemned the attack and said the government would maintain its efforts to eliminate the menace of terrorism. “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 said.
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