A total of 42 individuals lost their lives and more than 130 sustained injuries after a suicide bomber detonated explosives during a political rally in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in the northwest region on Sunday, police and rescue teams reported.
The explosion occurred at a meeting of the Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) party, a conservative group renowned for its connections to radical political Islam, in the previously tribal region of Bajaur, situated along the border of Afghanistan.
In response to the crisis, an emergency was announced in the medical facilities of Bajaur and nearby regions, where the majority of the injured were transferred, revealed Nazir Khan, the district police officer.
The critically wounded were airlifted from Bajaur to hospitals in the provincial capital, Peshawar, using military helicopters. Rescue 1122, a first-responder service, confirmed a death count of 42.
Khan reported that the blast, which took place during a JUI-F workers convention in Bajaur’s Khar town, resulted in severe injuries for over 130 people.
Akhtar Hayat, the provincial police chief revealed that the explosion was the result of a suicide bombing.
The occurrence of Islamist militant attacks in Pakistan has been on the rise since last year, following the breakdown of a ceasefire agreement between the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Islamabad.
A mosque in Peshawar was bombed earlier this year, causing over 100 deaths.
Despite the TTP and affiliated groups being responsible for the majority of recent assaults in Pakistan, the group disassociated itself from Sunday’s attack, with its spokesperson condemning the act.
The TTP, while pledging its loyalty to the Taliban in the neighbouring country of Afghanistan, operates independently.
The security forces of Pakistan claim that TTP operates from sanctuaries in Afghanistan, a claim refuted by the Taliban-governed administration there.
The Afghan administration denounced the blast in a statement released by their spokesperson, Zabihullah Mujahid.
Besides the TTP, other militant groups, including a local chapter of the Islamic State, have also carried out attacks in this region.
The political party targeted in this attack, the JUI-F, is a significant supporter of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s coalition government, which is preparing for the national elections due by November.
Sharif denounced the explosion, calling it as an assault on Pakistan’s democratic process. He pledged that those responsible would face justice.
Both the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad and former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed their condemnation of the explosion through posts on the messaging platform X, formerly referred to as Twitter.