KURRAM AGENCY: The political administration confirmed at least 22 deaths and dozens injured on Friday when a car bomb ripped through a market in Parachinar, the chief town of Kurram tribal region, ARY News reported.
The attack comes after a wave of militant violence killed 130 people across Pakistan in February, unnerving citizens who had been emboldened by improving security and prompting a military crackdown.
The blast occurred near Noor Market and it damaged nearby buildings and vehicles. According to AFP, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), a faction of the umbrella Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, swiftly claimed the attack in a message sent to AFP.
Interior Minister Chaudhary Nisar Ali Khan has sought report of the incident.
According to military’s public affairs wing, ISPR, the army helicopters had reached the site for rescue operations while a contingent of soldiers are also taking part in it.
Security forces arrived at the spot and cordoned off the vicinity after the blast. They also began the search operation to track possible suspects roaming in the area.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned Friday’s blast, saying it was a “duty” to seek the “complete annihilation” of terorrism in Pakistan, and ordering assistance for local authorities.
‘Parachinar targeted again’
On January 21, 2017, an explosion in a busy vegetable market in Parachinar had killed at least 21 people in an attack jointly claimed by the Pakistani Taliban and a branch of the sectarian militant group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi.
Video footage from the site showed chaotic scenes with people running and shouting in panic and victims strewn in front of vegetables shops among smashed crates and pushcarts.
Victims could be heard screaming and crying while ambulances arrived at the site with sirens blaring.
Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif expressed deep grief over the loss of precious lives in the deadly blast. He directed urgent medical assistance for the injured and expressed condolences for the departed souls.
‘Terror attacks in Kurram’
Kurram, the only part of Pakistan’s border region with Afghanistan that has a significant Shia population, has been racked by sectarian violence.
Lower Kurram is one of the most sensitive tribal areas as it borders three Afghan provinces and at one point was one of the key routes for militant movement across the border.
The region was claimed by the military to have been cleared of insurgents during an operation in 2012, however, militants still carry out sectarian attacks and also target security forces occasionally.