PESHAWAR - At least 45 people were killed and 70 others injured when two back-to-back bomb blasts ripped through a shopping centre in the Parachinar city in Kurram Agency Friday afternoon.
Local sources said that the first explosion occurred when the locals were busy in Eid shopping and buying food for Iftar in Akbar Market in the main Turi Bazaar.
While rescuers and the locals had barely started relief activities to shift the victims of the first blast to hospitals, the second blast hit the crowd, multiplying the number of casualties.
Till the filing this report, no group had claimed responsibility for the attack.
A Political Administration official told APP that initial reports said that some 18 persons were killed and over 100 injured, many of them seriously and some of them later expired in hospitals raising the death toll to 45.
The intensity of the blasts was so high that the sounds echoed the entire locality. An eyewitness said that the huge blasts smashed the windowpanes of the nearby houses and shops.
Another source said that ear-splitting bangs of the blasts, which came just minutes apart, created fear and panic in the area and the people rushed to search their loved ones.
Local people on a self-help basis shifted the injured to Agency headquarters hospital in Parachinar.
“The agency headquarters hospital lacks basic facilities to accommodate a large number of victims and the injured are being shifted to the district hospital in Kurram Agency,” a hospital source said.
National Assembly member Sajid Hussain Turi also said that most of the injured were shifted to other areas due to lack of facilities in the agency headquarter hospital.
Two military helicopters also left for Parachinar to airlift the injured to Peshawar, the ISPR said in a statement. It added that soon after the blast, the Pakistan Army personnel cordoned off the area and launched a search operation.
Official sources said that the blasts may have been carried out by suicide bombers and their main target was the crowd busy in shopping.
This happened on the last Friday of Ramazan, just a few days to go before the Eid holidays, so most of the people who were the victims were ordinary shoppers going about their shopping routines and possibly buying gifts for Eid.
MNA Turi said that the second blast occurred when locals and rescuers were busy in the rescue operation at the site of the first blast.
Talking to media persons, Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government spokesman Mushtaq Ghani condemned the double bombing and said that terrorists could not shake the resolve of the people and the government who were valiantly fighting the terrorists.
Kurram Agency bordering Afghanistan was the hub of militants before the launching of the military operation Zarb-e-Azab.
The tribal district and particularly its main town, Parachinar, has time and again been targeted by militants by carrying outs suicide attacks.
On April 25, at least 14 people including four women had lost their lives when a remote-controlled explosive device exploded targeting a passenger van in the Godar area of Kurram.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned terrorist attacks in Quetta and Parachinar that resulted in loss of innocent lives and injured scores others.
Condemning the terrorist attacks, he directed the authorities at federal and provincial levels to hunt down the perpetrators of this heinous act and bring them to justice. He also asked to provide best treatment facilities to the injured of the two blasts.
Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa said on Friday that the enemy is trying to mar festive mood of the nation by resorting to coward acts.
Director General (DG) of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) reported that the army chief said: "Enemy trying to mar festive mood of nation through such coward acts. Shall fail against resilience of Pakistan."
ISPR DG Major General Asif Ghafoor Bajwa said security has been tightened across the country. Special Intelligence-Based Operations (IBO) and search operations were launched in coordination with intelligence and other law enforcement agencies.