Pakistan's Premier Multilingual News Agency

Suicide attack at political rally in northwest Pakistan killed at least 44

Nearly 44 were killed and 200 others were reportedly hurt in the attack on the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam meeting in the northwest Bajaur region, officials said.

Khar, 31 July, 2023 (GNP): A devastating suicide bombing occurred on Sunday at a political rally in Pakistan’s northwestern Bajaur district, resulting in the loss of at least 44 lives and leaving nearly 200 injured.

The incident took place during a gathering of the conservative Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) party on the outskirts of Khar, a town near the Afghanistan border.

The suicide bomber detonated his explosives vest near the stage, where several senior party leaders were seated, causing extensive casualties and damage. Authorities are currently investigating the attack, and initial findings point to the possibility of the Islamic State group’s (IS) involvement, which operates in Afghanistan. Its activities in the region pose a significant threat to peace and security.

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Feroz Jamal, the provincial information minister, confirmed the tragic loss of 44 lives and stated that nearly 200 people have been wounded. The injured have been rushed to hospitals in Bajaur and surrounding areas for immediate medical attention. Critical cases have been airlifted to hospitals in the provincial capital, Peshawar, by military helicopters.

Witnesses of the horrific incident described the chaos and devastation they encountered, with many seeking shelter amidst the dust and smoke from the blast. The attack also led to the unfortunate death of JUI-F leader Ziaullah Jan.

The Pakistan Democratic Alliance, an affiliate of the government, includes the JUI-F party, which plays a significant role in the coalition.

The attack was strongly condemned by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, who extended their heartfelt condolences to the victims’ families.

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Interior Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb emphasized the importance of eliminating terrorism for the safety and integrity of Pakistan, condemning the actions of those responsible for such heinous acts.

This tragedy marks one of the deadliest attacks in northwestern Pakistan since 2014, when 147 people, mostly schoolchildren, were killed in a Taliban attack on an army-run school in Peshawar. The perpetrators of Sunday’s bombing have been condemned by both the TTP and the Afghan Taliban, demonstrating a collective stance against such violent actions.

The JUI-F party has been facing challenges from IS in recent years yet remains resilient and committed to its cause. Abdul Rasheed, the regional chief of the party, urged the authorities to investigate the incident thoroughly and provide support to the affected individuals.