Monday June 24, 2024

14 van passengers martyred in Kurram blast

By Ali Afzal
April 26, 2017

Four Khassadars providing security to census team among the dead; injured airlifted to Peshawar; funeral of victims offered at Parachinar Imambargah; Jamaatul Ahrar, IS Khorasan claim responsibility

PARACHINAR: Fourteen persons, including five women and four children, were martyred and nine others sustained injuries when a passenger van was targeted with an improvised explosive device (IED) in the volatile Kurram Agency on Tuesday, official sources said.

The sources said that the passenger van was heading towards the Sadda town from the Godar area in central Kurram Agency when the vehicle hit the roadside bomb in Pato Kot. “A woman died on the spot while other passengers sustained injuries in the roadside explosion,” an official of the political administration of Kurram Agency said.

Another official said an anti-tank mine planted along the road caused the explosion. The injured were taken to the Tehsil Hospital in Sadda from where they were shifted to the Agency Headquarters Hospital in Parachinar, the main town in Kurram Agency. However, 13 more passengers succumbed to their injuries at the hospital.

The dead included two sisters and their children. Among the dead was six months old Bibi Maryam. Her pictures went viral on the Internet causing pain and outrage among those following the Kurram Agency blast story. Four other victims were Khassadar personnel, who were heading to Sadda town to provide security to the census team. The other dead included Sughra, Saima, Wasila, Najmul Nisa, Murad Ali, Gul Bibi and Muhammad Faqir.

Officials said the injured were airlifted to Peshawar for further treatment. The military’s media wing, ISPR, said an Mi-17 helicopter was sent to Parachinar to fly the seriously wounded to Peshawar for treatment. The funeral prayers for the dead were offered at the central Imambargah in Parachinar and the bodies were shifted to their respective areas for burial.

The outlawed militant group, Jamaatul Ahrar, which is a breakaway faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claimed responsibility for the attack. It said through its spokesman that the attack targeted census workers and also Shias travelling in the van. The Jamaatul Ahrar, whose leadership including its Ameer Abdul Wali aka Omar Khalid Khorasani is mostly based in Afghanistan, had also claimed responsibility for the previous bomb explosions in Parachinar in January and March this year. Later, another militant group, Islamic State (IS) Khorasan, claimed responsibility for Tuesday’s attack targeting the van. 

Kurrram Agency has been facing a new wave of terrorism over the last few months at a time when the other tribal agencies have become relatively peaceful and stable. The March 31 terrorist attack at the Noor Market located close to the Imambargah in Parachinar had killed 24 persons and injured another 70. The massive explosion caused by explosives packed into a vehicle had also destroyed shops and other buildings in the locality.

In the earlier explosion in a vegetable market in Parachinar city on January 21, more than 20 persons were killed and almost 50 wounded. Habibullah Khan adds from Miranshah: Two security officials were killed and seven others injured in two different incidents in North Waziristan on Tuesday, official sources said.

Security officials said that one soldier of the army was killed and seven other injured when their vehicle fell into a ravine near Dwa Toi area of Dattakhel subdivision, some 65 kilometres of North Waziristan's regional headquarters Miranshah.

The injured soldiers were later airlifted in a military helicopter and taken to the army-run hospital in Miranshah military camp. They were stated in stable condition. In another incident, an Army soldier was killed when lighting hit their outpost called Zahid post in Garyom in Razmak subdivision. The body of the soldier was later dispatched to his native area for burial.