Over 65 injured, 15 in critical condition; LJ, Ansarul Mujahideen claim responsibility; explosive hidden in fruit crate; president, PM, others condemn attack;
COAS says terrorists will fail in their attempt to regain lost relevance
PARACHINAR/PESHAWAR: As many as 25 people, majority of them poor vendors and shopkeepers, were killed and over 65 others injured on Saturday in a bomb explosion at the Parachinar fruit and vegetable market. Parachinar is the headquarters of Kurram Agency. Fifteen injured were in critical condition.
Though security agencies are yet to determine the nature of the blast, local residents and Member of National Assembly from Upper Kurram Agency, Sajid Hussain Tori, said that the explosive device was planted in a fruit or vegetable crate that went off when a large number of people had gathered in the market on Saturday morning.
“The bomb was planted either in a fruit or vegetable crate in Kohat as local merchants brought these items from the main market in Kohat,” MNA Sajid Hussain Tori told The News on telephone from Parachinar.
He said besides shopkeepers and vendors, a large number of tribesmen daily visited the market for buying vegetables and fruit. This was reportedly the third terrorist strike in the market in the recent past.
The last terrorist attack in Parachinar had taken place 13 months ago. The relatively long period of peace had raised hopes that this would continue. The sectarian rift in Kurram Agency was also healing and there was increasing interaction between the Sunnis and Shias. The upper Kurram is overwhelmingly populated by Shias and the lower Kurram and central Kurram mostly by Sunnis.
The Lashkar-i-Jhangvi al-Al-Alami and the Ansarul Mujahideen were said to have claimed responsibility for the attack.
According to the local people, the market usually opens early in the morning. Shopkeepers and customers come from nearby villages and also Parachinar city to buy fruit and vegetables.
An eyewitness Amjad Hussain said that he saw human bodies strewn and lying in different parts of the market. He felt the response of the rescue workers and political administration was quite slow, saying people had to take the victims to hospital on self-help basis.
“People and mostly shopkeepers had to take the injured in their cars and pickup trucks as the local administration was not able to handle the situation,” he maintained.
Lawmaker Sajid Tori said several persons were killed on the spot while some died in the hospital. He added an injured succumbed to his injuries at the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Peshawar.
Among the injured, 33 were admitted to the Agency Headquarters Hospital in Parachinar while 14 critically injured were flown to the CMH in Peshawar by an army helicopter. Four injured were taken to the military hospital in Thall in Hangu district.
“Two children are among the dead. One apparently died of shock and fear as there were no visible signs of injuries on his body,” MNA Sajid Tori noted.
Some relatives and attendants of the victims complained about the absence of doctors and health workers when the injured were shifted to the main regional hospital in Parachinar.
One of the tribesmen, Shahid Hussain, called The News and complained that most of the doctors were sitting in their private clinics outside the hospital when the injured were brought to the hospital. “Most of the injured died as they couldn’t get prompt medical attention and first aid,” Shahid Hussain complained.
He said Medical Superintendent Dr Sabir Husain was also absent from duty while the agency surgeon Dr Moin Begum was called from another place after the blast.
MNA Sajid Tori confirmed the shortage of specialist doctors in the hospital and said all the available doctors were present to attend to the injured.
Dr Mumtaz Hussain, Deputy Medical Superintendent, told The News that doctors were on duty when the injured were brought to the hospital.
He said he was serving as the acting medical superintendent as Dr Sabir Hussain was in Peshawar for an official meeting. He added that Dr Sabir Hussain immediately left for Parachinar when he heard about the blast.
“We successfully handled the trauma but a large number of relatives and attendants of the victims made our job difficult as they thronged the hospital. They brought a lot of dirt with their shoes and we had to clean the hospital after every hour,” said Dr Mumtaz Hussain.
He said four of the injured who were under treatment at the CMH Peshawar were in critical condition.
Meanwhile, all the bodies were taken to the central Imambargah in Parachinar city where their collective funeral prayer was held amid widespread grief. The bodies were later transported to their respective villages for burial.
Frontier Corps (FC) Inspector General and senior military officials attended the funeral.
All the dead were residents of Kurram Agency except one who came from Abbottabad for business. His body was taken to Abbottabad for burial.
The dead were identified as Israr Hussain s/o Ghulam Shalozan, Manzar Ali s/o Nazeer Ali, Syed Qaoseen s/o Imam Ali Shah, Zahir Hussain s/o Zakar Hussain, Sajid Hussain s/o Janan Hussain, Shafat Hussain s/o Marsan Ali, Maskar Ali s/o Ghulam Nabi, Riyasat Ali s/o Muhammad Maskeen, Zain Haider, a 12-year-old child whose identity could not be ascertained, Tajamal Hussain s/o Zakar Hussain, Shujaat s/o Imran Ali, Baqar Hussain s/o Zakir Hussain, Syed Qadar Shah s/o Syed Nazarat Shah, Arif Hussain s/o Khaisat Khan, Ajmal Hussain, Muhammad Qambar, Amjad Ali s/o Muhammad Akbar, Lal Jan Mukbal, Tajamal s/o Naimat Ali Sultan, Syed Iqbal Hussain s/o Syed Jalal Hussain, Najmal Hussain s/o Zulfiqar Hussain and Muhsin Abbas s/o Nabi Hussain.
Agencies add: President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned the deadly blast that took place in Parachinar killing several innocent people and leaving many others injured.
The president and the PM prayed for forgiveness of the departed souls and early recovery of those who suffered injuries in the tragic incident.
He also sympathised with the bereaved families and prayed for courage to them to bear their losses with equanimity.
Meanwhile, Chief of Army Staff COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa categorically stated that terrorists would fail in their attempt to regain lost relevance.
In a statement following the Parachinar blast, he directed for quick evacuation of the injured people and provision of the best possible medical treatment to them.
Meanwhile, Central Chairman Pakistan Ulema Council (PUC) Hafiz Muhammad Tahir Mahmood Ashrafi said on Saturday that Parachinar bomb blast was an act of terrorism committed by the enemies of Pakistan and all peace loving people widely condemned it.
Such an act reflected the frustration of anti-Pakistan and anti-Islam forces as they were choosing soft targets and killing innocent civilians, which is an example of their defeat, he said. “Ulema are united to share the grief of the bereaved families,” he said.
Followers of all religious schools of thought in Pakistan pray for early recovery of the injured persons and to rest the departed souls in eternal peace and grant courage to the bereaved families to bear the loss with fortitude, he said.
Meanwhile, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak, Punjab Governor Rafiq Rajwana and Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif, Sindh's acting governor Agha Siraj and Chief Minister Murad Ali Shah, Balochistan Governor Jan Achakzai and Chief Minister Sanaullah Zehri, federal ministers, party heads and others condemned the gory incident of bomb blast in Parachinar.