Over 40 dead as bomber explodes at JUI-F rally in Bajaur

PESHAWAR   - A suicide bomber exploded during a convention of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F workers in Bajaur tribal district, killing more than 40 people, including JUI-F Khar tehsil amir Maulana Ziaullah, local and official sources said on Sunday.

Area resident Sajid Fitrat told The Nation from Bajaur by phone that the bombing took place as soon as former senator Maulana Abdul Rasheed stoop up to start his speech. The bombing happened in Shendai Mor area of Khar subdivision in Bajaur district.

 “As the former senator stood up on the stage and people started chanting slogans in his favour, the bomber detonated explosives at some distance from the stage. Over 200 were wounded, many of whom are critical,” he added.

Rahim Shah, an eyewitness, told media that more than 500 people were present at the gathering when the blast occurred. “A strong explosion knocked me unconscious,” he said, “As I regained consciousness, there was blood everywhere, and there were cries and even gunshots.” Another eyewitness, Maulana Fazal Ahad, told this correspondent that there were around 800 people at the venue when the bomber struck it. “There were 500 chairs, which had already been occupied and many people were standing there while there were people still arriving at the place,” he added. Local sources also said that the rally was being held as part of the election campaign of a JUI-F candidate for coming elections of the KP Assembly. It merits a mention here that several activists of JUI-F have been killed in attacks in Bajaur district in recent months. Khar area in Bajaur lies at a distance of around 20 kilometers from the Afghan border where Kunar province lies on the other side of the border. Caretaker Information Minister Feroze Jamal Shah told journalists that more than 200 persons had been wounded in the attack at the JUI-F workers’ convention. JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman has condemned the attack and sought an investigation into the attack and asked Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and KP Caretaker Chief Minister Azam Khan to take action to this end. He prayed for the health of the injured as well as the higher ranks of the deceased. He also asked the party members to go to the hospital and donate blood for the injured. “JUI activists must stay calm, and the federal and provincial governments must offer the best possible treatment to the victims,” Fazl stated. Meanwhile, Inspector General of Police (IGP) of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Akhtar Hayat Khan confirmed that the initial inquiry had proved it was a suicide attack. He also stated that the investigation teams were gathering evidences from the bomb site. Meanwhile, the Prime Minister’s Office announced that Prime Minister Shehbaz has issued directions to investigate the incident. Major General Noor Wali Khan, IG Frontier Corps (FC), also arrived in Bajaur to inspect the situation. Meanwhile, emergency was declared at the Lady Reading Hospital and other health facilities in Peshawar too while CMH in Peshawar was also alerted for treatment of the injured of the attack. President Dr. Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif have strongly condemned the blast at the JUI-F workers convention.

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