Crime & Justice

Death toll rises to 54 in Pakistan suicide bombing, IS claims attack

(Update 1: updates death toll, adds details)

Islamabad, July 31 (EFE).- The death toll from a suicide bombing that targeted a political rally of a pro-Taliban party in Pakistan’s northwestern Bajaur tribal district rose to 54 on Monday evening even as the Islamic State claimed the attack.

A suicide bomber had blown himself near the stage of the political gathering organized by pro-Taliban Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUIF) religious-political party in the town of Khar on Sunday.

“The death toll has reached 54 while around 80 wounded people are undergoing treatment at different hospitals,” Niaz Mohammed, the head of the Khar police station, told EFE.

The IS claimed the attack on a telegram channel linked to the terror group.

Mohammad had also said that the preliminary probe had pointed at the IS-Khorasan Province – the Afghan arm of the IS – as the possible perpetrator.

He said said that the IS had targeted JUIF leadership and workers several times in the past.

Investigators from Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) and other law enforcement agencies are carrying out a detailed probe into the attack.

“Some evidence has been collected from the scene which suggests that from 10 kg to 12 kg explosives was used in the blast,” Niaz said, adding that three suspects had been arrested so far.

The bombing was unanimously condemned by institutions and groups in the region, including the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) – the main Taliban faction in the country – and the Taliban-led Afghan government.

The JUIF is headed by hardline cleric and politician Fazlur Rehman who has escaped at least two known bomb attacks in 2011 and 2014. Rehman is a strong supporter of the Afghan Taliban government.

In March the IS had claimed a suicide bombing that killed 10 people – including 9 police officers – in southern Pakistan.

In January, it carried out one of the worst attacks against Pakistani security forces in recent times, killing over a 100 people and wounding more than 50.

Since the Taliban takeover in Afghanistan, the TTP has increased its insurgent activities in Pakistan, fighting to overthrow the central government in Islamabad and impose its own brand of Shariah law.

Islamabad has accused the Afghan Taliban of providing “safe havens” to the TTP leadership and fighters on their soil.

The Afghan Taliban has denied the charges.

Bajaur, one of seven remote districts bordering Afghanistan, was previously a stronghold of the TTP fighters before the Pakistani military started an offensive in 2014. EFE


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