Death toll from suicide blast in Bajaur rises to 54

At least 54 people died after a suicide bomber attacked a political rally organized in Bajaur, northwestern Pakistan on July 31, police said.

More than 100 were injured in the attack targeting members of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) party, who had gathered in the town of Khar, Bajaur district, close to the border with Afghanistan.

Among the deceased was JUI-F leader Maulana Ziaullah Jan, who served as the JUI-F emir in Khar tehsil. The horrifying scenes after the blast were captured on film, showing panicked individuals gathering while ambulances rushed to transport the wounded to nearby hospitals.

“It was a suicide attack, with the bomber detonating himself in close proximity to the stage,” said KP Health Minister Riaz Anwar, who earlier confirmed the death toll at 44, adding that over 100 individuals were receiving medical treatment for their injuries.

Bajaur District Health Officer Dr. Faisal Kamal revealed that over 150 injured individuals had been brought to the Bajaur District Headquarters Hospital. “Over 35 people have been referred to the Timargarh hospital while 15 critically injured persons have been sent to Peshawar via a Pakistan Army helicopter,” he added.

KP Inspector General of Police Akhtar Hayat Khan reported that the attacker had used approximately 10 kilograms of explosives and that investigators had collected evidence, including ball bearings and other explosive materials, from the scene.

“Investigation is underway and culprits will soon be arrested,” he reassured.

In response to the tragedy, KP caretaker Information Minister Feroze Shah announced that hospitals in Bajaur and surrounding areas were on high alert. “We are trying to move critical patients to Peshawar and other hospitals through helicopters,” he said while speaking to Geo News.

Shah emphasized that providing medical care to the injured was the top priority, and various institutions, including the Pakistan Army, offered assistance in rescue and relief operations.

Claim of attack

As authorities began their investigation, no group had claimed responsibility for the heinous attack at the time of reporting. KP caretaker Chief Minister Azam Khan sought a comprehensive report on the incident from the police and visited the Combined Military Hospital in Peshawar to meet the injured and inquire about their condition. He extended his best wishes for their swift recovery and directed the administration to provide them with the best medical care available.

Witness Statements

According to Rahim Shah, an eyewitness, the convention was attended by over 500 people when the explosion took place.

“We were listening to a bayan [sermon] when a powerful explosion knocked me unconscious,” he said.

Sabeehullah, a 24-year-old supporter of JUI-F, described the horrifying scale of injuries, stating that he had his arm fractured by the blast.

“There was utter confusion, with human flesh, limbs, and body parts scattered throughout the area, alongside lifeless bodies. I found myself lying next to someone who had lost their limbs. The air was filled with the smell of human flesh,” he said.

Condemnations Pour in

In a statement released by the party’s media cell, the JUI-F chief expressed deep sorrow over the incident and called for a thorough investigation into the attack by Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and the KP government.

“May Allah raise the ranks of martyrs,” Fazl said and prayed for the speedy recovery of the injured.

Prime Minister Shehbaz vehemently condemned the blast at the JUI-F convention, denouncing the terrorists’ actions against those who advocated the cause of Islam, the Holy Quran, and Pakistan.

“Terrorists are enemies of Pakistan and they will be eliminated,” he asserted in a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office.

Additionally, he requested a comprehensive report of the incident from Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government.

Meanwhile, President Arif Alvi offered prayers for eternal peace for the departed souls and extended his heartfelt condolences to the grieving families. He also conveyed his wishes for a speedy recovery of the injured and stressed the importance of promptly providing them with necessary medical assistance.

Former president Asif Ali Zardari said terrorists were everyone’s enemies. “Like Swat, the entire country needs to be cleansed of the nurseries of terrorism,” he stated.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan also expressed his deep sorrow upon learning about the blast and extended heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims.

“The rise in terror incidents across Pakistan particularly in KP, calls for an urgent need to reconsider our priorities,” he said, adding that the authorities should focus on eliminating terrorism.

The US Embassy in Islamabad also extended its deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims who lost their lives in the blast in Bajaur district.

“We strongly condemn this heinous act of violence, which resulted in the loss of innocent lives and caused harm to many others. Such acts of terror have no place in a peaceful and democratic society. We stand in solidarity with the people of Pakistan during this difficult time,” it said.

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