Blast kills at least 39, injures 200 in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Published : 30 Jul 2023 09:32 PM

At least 39 people were killed while over 200 were wounded in a blast at a Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) convention in the Khar tehsil of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s (KP) Bajaur district on Sunday.

KP caretaker Information Minister Firoz Shah Jamal confirmed the death toll and number of injuries in an interview with Geo News. On the other hand, AFP put the death toll at 39.

Jamal said hospitals across Bajaur and neighbouring areas had been put on high alert. “We are trying to move critical patients to Peshawar and other hospitals through helicopters.”

“Our utmost priority right now is to provide medical treatment to the injured. The blast site has been cordoned off. Pakistan Army and other institutions are assisting us in the operation,” Jamal added.

Meanwhile, Bajaur District Emergency Officer Saad Khan told that Maulana Ziaullah Jan, JUI-F amir in Khar tehsil, also passed away in the blast.

The image shows JUI-F leader Maulana Ziaullah Jan, who was martyred in a blast in Bajaur on Sunday. — Photo by Umar Bacha

Separately, Bajaur District Health Officer Faisal Kamal said more than 150 injured people had been brought to the Bajaur District Headquarters Hospital while those in critical condition were being moved to the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) in Peshawar.’s correspondent, who was present at the blast site, said a local journalist was among those injured.

In a statement issued later in the day, KP Governor Haji Ghulam Ali said a helicopter had been sent to Bajaur for the transfer of injured people.

He also directed authorities to issue a high alert at the LRH in Peshawar and ensure the best medical treatment of injured persons.

Footage of the site showed panic-stricken people gathering following the blast as ambulances arrived to move the injured to hospitals. Afterwards, a large police contingent cordoned off the area.

Rahim Shah, a witness, told that more than 500 people were attending the convention when the blast occurred. “We were listening to a bayan when a powerful explosion knocked me unconscious,” he said.

Shah narrated that when he regained consciousness, there was blood everywhere. “People were screaming and even shots were fired,” he added. Condemnations

JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman, in a statement issued by the party’s media cell, expressed grief over the incident. He sought an inquiry into the attack from Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and the KP government.

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

He also appealed to JUI-F workers to immediately reach hospitals and provide blood donations.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif strongly condemned the blast at the JUI-F convention. He said terrorists targeted 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, adding that elements involved in the incident would be meted out strict punishment.

He also sought a report of the incident from Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah and the government of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Earlier, JUI-F leader Hafiz Hamdullah said he was supposed to attend the convention today but could not because of some personal commitments.

“I strongly condemn the blast and want to give a message to the people behind it that this is not jihad but terrorism,” the JUI-F leader said while speaking to Geo News.

He asserted that today’s incident was an attack on humanity and Bajaur.

Hamdullah demanded that the blast should be probed, recalling that this was not the first that the JUI-F had been targetted. “This has happened before […] our workers have been targetted. We raised our voice over this in the Parliament but no action was taken.”

He also extended his condolences to grieving families and urged the provincial government to provide the best medical facilities to the injured.

In a statement on the PPP Media Cell, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari condemned the blast and extended condolences to the bereaved.

“The federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments should bring the patrons of terrorists to justice,” he said, stressing that terrorists and their planners should be eliminated.

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.

Jamaat-e-Islami Senator Mushtaq Ahmed also condemned the blast and extended his condolences over the deaths.

“The federal and provincial governments, forces, intelligence agencies and civil administration have completely failed to protect the people,” he tweeted.

“The return of terrorism proves that the government’s security plan/policy has failed and tribal districts of KP are in the middle of this fire,” the JI senator said and demanded that a joint in-camera session of the Parliament should be called to address the issue of rising terrorism.