Monday 23 April 2018

Taliban suicide bomber kills 24 at Pakistani Shia mosque

Pakistani security officials and residents gather at the site of the powerful explosion at a market in Parachinar, capital of the Kurram tribal district. Photo: AFP/Getty
Pakistani security officials and residents gather at the site of the powerful explosion at a market in Parachinar, capital of the Kurram tribal district. Photo: AFP/Getty

Riaz Khan

At least 24 people died and more than 70 others were injured in a suicide car bomb attack near a Shia Muslim place of worship in the north-west Pakistani city of Parachinar.

The attack took place near Parachinar's Shia mosque, which is located near the Noor Market. TV footage showed people transporting the victims in ambulances and private vehicles.

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a breakaway faction of Pakistani Taliban militants, has claimed responsibility for the attack.

Spokesman Asad Mansoor said the attack was carried out by one of the group's members, Abul Durda, using a car bomb to target Shias, whom the militants consider to be heretics.

The blast was so powerful it also damaged vehicles and nearby shops, according to government administrator Zahid Hussain.

He said authorities have declared an emergency and rescuers were transporting the wounded to nearby hospitals.

Parachinar is a key city in the Kurram tribal region bordering Afghanistan and has been wracked by sectarian violence in the past.

The region was once a stronghold of Pakistani Taliban and Sunni militant groups. Although the army said it has cleared the Kurram region of militants, violence has continued.

Sabir Hussain, a hospital official, said the Pakistan army used helicopters to transport 40 wounded to hospitals in the north-western city of Peshawar.

Angered over the attack, some residents were seen chanting slogans against the government. Security forces subsequently fired shots in the air and dispersed the crowd.

Earlier, the Pakistan army said it had dispatched a helicopter along with a team of doctors to help the victims.

Irish Independent

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