Attackers open fire on Levies personnel outside Imambargah before blast; people stage protest with bodies of victims; Jamaatul Ahrar claims responsibility; PM, other leaders condemn blast
PARACHINAR: Twenty-four people were martyred and 100 others sustained injuries in a car bomb explosion at the gate of an Imambargah here on Friday, official sources said.
“At least 24 persons were killed and 100 others sustained injuries in the car bomb explosion at the entrance reserved for women of the central Imambargah in a busy locality of Parachinar,” a government official said.
Kurram Agency’s political agent Ikramullah Khan confirmed the death toll. Among the dead and injured were women and children.Several shops and houses were damaged due to the impact of the huge explosion. A number of cars were also damaged by the blast.
Though most sources and eyewitnesses said it was a car bomb explosion, Kurram Agency’s parliamentarian Sajid Hussain Turi opined earlier in the day that it was a suicide bombing. He said firing took place before the blast. There were reports that armed men opened fire at the Levies personnel outside the Imambargah before the blast.
The blast took place in Noor Market adjacent to the Imambargah. The shopkeepers, customers and the faithful preparing for the Friday prayers were caught up in the explosion. It was stated to be the fifth bomb explosion in one or the other markets in Parachinar, sited around 250 kilometres west of Peshawar, in recent years.
The outlawed Jamaatul Ahrar, a splinter faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claimed responsibility for the blast. It posted a video message to make the claim. Jamaatul Ahrar, led by Abdul Wali aka Omar Khalid Khorasani, is operating from Afghanistan’s Nangarhar province after its members fled the Pakistan military operations in Mohmand Agency in Fata. The Shia community and its Imambargah were the target of the bombing.
Soon after the explosion in Parachinar at around 10:45am, officials of the political administration of Kurram Agency, security forces personnel and volunteers of the relief organisations rushed to the site of the incident and started relief and rescue activities. Among the martyred were Aleem Khan, Naseer Hussain, Noor Ahmad Jan, Muzaffar Ali, Jabir Hussain, Nasir Hussain, Malik Ali Hussain, Maqbool Hussain, Nawab Ali, Safar Ali, Shujaat Hussain, Amjad Ali, Jawad Raza, Mumtaz Hussain, Sayed Kamil Hussain, Muzahir Hussain, Zubaida Bibi, Ali, Zuhra Bibi and Habib Ali. Identity of other victims could not be established.
The injured were taken tothe Agency Headquarters Hospital in Parachinar, from where 27 critically injured were airlifted to Peshawar. The Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the media arm of the Pakistan military, said an army medical evacuation helicopter was sent to Parachinar to evacuate the injured to Peshawar. The Agency Headquarters Hospital’s Medical Superintendent Dr Sabir Hussain told reporters that 70 injured were undergoing treatment at the hospital.
A number of tribesmen said the injured couldn’t be provided proper treatment at the hospital due to the lack of facilities. Deficiencies at the hospital become visible and are highlighted in the media after every act of terrorism.
The people staged a protest along with the bodies of the blast victims in Parachinar and criticised the government for its failure to stop the terrorist activities. The protesters said the tribesmen were subjected to checking at several checkpoints before entering the Kurram Agency. They questioned as to how an explosives-laden car reached Parachinar without being detected.
The officials of the political administration opened fire on the protesters, leaving three persons injured.
On January 21, at least 26 persons were killed in a blast in Parachinar. This attack was claimed by Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami and a faction of the TTP. Both groups are sectarian in nature.Agencies add: Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Mamnoon Hussain along with other political leaders condemned and expressed deep condolences over the blast in Parachinar.
Sympathising deeply with the bereaved families, they prayed Allah Almighty to rest the departed souls in eternal peace and grant courage to the bereaved families to bear the loss with equanimity. They also prayed for the speedy recovery of the injured of the blast.
The prime minister in his message reiterated his government’s unflinching resolve to eliminate the menace of terrorism from the country at all costs. “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,” said the PM.
Majlis Wahdat-e-Muslimeen supremo Allama Raja Nasir Abbas Jafri and Tehreek Nifaz Fiqah Jafriya (TNFJ) chief Agha Hamid Ali Shah Moosavi also condemned the Parachinar blast.
In the their separate statements, they wondered how the terrorists managed to hit their target notwithstanding so many check posts set up across the region. They urged the prime minister and the army chief to take notice of firing incident on protesters in Parachinar.
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