35 dead as blast rips through JUI-F workers’ convention in Bajaur

An ambulance coming heading to the site of the blast. — Reporter

BAJAUR: As many as 35 people died including a Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) local leader after a suicide bomber exploded during the party’s workers’ convention in Bajaur’s Khar, Geo News reported on Sunday.

Caretaker Information Minister Feroze Jamal Shah Kakakhel told Geo News that more than 200 people have been injured during the blast that took place during the speech of a JUI-F leader.

The district emergency officer shared that the injured are also being shifted to Timergara and Peshawar.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Inspector General of Police (IGP) Akhtar Hayat Khan confirmed that the initial investigation revealed that it was a suicide attack.

He added that the investigation teams are collecting evidence from the site of the blast.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister’s Office said that PM Shehbaz has issued directives to investigate the incident and identify those who are responsible.

IG Frontier Corps (FC) Major General Noor Wali Khan has reached Bajaur to supervise the situation. Meanwhile, CMH Peshawar has been put on an alert and a rescue operation by the security forces and other law enforcement agencies is underway.

Geo News cameraman in critical condition

One of the injured includes Geo News cameraman Samiullah and has been shifted to the district headquarters hospital in Lower Dir as he is said to be in critical condition.

The cameraman has sustained injuries on his head and his chest.

Blast took place around 4pm: JUI-F KP spokesperson

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s (KP) JUI-F spokesperson Abdul Jalil Khan, told Geo News, that the explosion took place at around 4pm as Maulana Laeeq was addressing the convention.

The provincial spokesperson said that JUI-F MNA Maulana Jamaluddin and Senator Abdul Rasheed were also present during the convention He confirmed that one of the dead includes JUI-F’s Tehsil Khar Amir Maulana Ziaullah.

JUI-F chief Fazl demands inquiry into incident

JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman demanded Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and KP Caretaker Chief Minister Azam Khan carry out an inquiry into the incident.

Condemning the blast, Fazl prayed for the health of the injured and the higher ranks of the deceased.

He also urged the party workers to reach the hospital and donate blood.

“JUI workers should remain peaceful and federal and provincial governments should provide the best treatment to the injured,” said Fazl.

Condemnations pour in

President Dr Arif Alvi denounced the Bajaur blast, urging for timely medical assistance for the injured.

The head of state also expressed condolences to the families of the deceased and prayed for the speedy recovery of the wounded.

National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and Deputy Speaker Zahid Akram Durrani also expressed deep sorrow over the loss of lives in the explosion.

“Targeting innocent people is a very shameful act,” they said, adding that the entire nation is united to bring an end to terrorism.

Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that the federal and provincial governments should bring the facilitators of the terrorists to justice.

Expressing his sympathies and condolences to the families of the dead, Bilawal said that the planners of terrorism need to be eliminated.

Jamaat-e-Islami Ameer Sirajul Haq also condemned the blast and said that it was aimed at spreading chaos in the country.

He added that the terrorist elements and their facilitators will not be able to succeed in their nefarious ambitions.

Haque also requested the government to conduct an immediate investigation into the blast.

Punjab Caretaker Chief Minister Mohsin Naqvi condemned the incident, saying that the nation is united against terrorism and will end its menace through the strength of unity.

“Those who play with the lives of innocent people do not deserve to be called human beings,” he added.