KABUL – A powerful bomb exploded at a rally organized by supporters of a hard-line cleric and political leader on Sunday in the northwestern Bajaur district of Pakistan, bordering Afghanistan, killing at least 35 people, with more than 100 individuals sustaining severe injuries, according to reports from local police and health officials.
The unfortunate incident occurred during the workers’ convention of the Jamiat Ulema Islam party, led by Maulana Fazlur Rehman, on the outskirts of Khar, the capital of Bajur district. Senior police officer Nazir Khan confirmed the details of the horrifying event.
Initially, authorities reported ten casualties, but the death toll climbed to 35 as more bodies were discovered and brought to the hospital. Additionally, a considerable number of the wounded were in critical condition, making it likely that the death toll might further rise.
Azam Khan, the head of the emergency room at Khar’s main hospital, provided updates on the situation, stating that 35 bodies had been brought to the hospital, and numerous injured individuals had arrived as well. Some of the wounded initially sought medical aid at smaller clinics but were subsequently transferred to the main government hospital for comprehensive treatment.
Mohibullah Khan Yousufzai, a government administrator, confirmed the increased death toll and noted that the number of wounded had surpassed 100. Efforts were underway to airlift the critically injured to the provincial capital, Peshawar, to receive better medical attention.
As of now, no group has claimed responsibility for the heinous attack. However, the Islamic State group’s presence across the border in Afghanistan raises concerns about potential involvement. Among the deceased was Maulana Ziaullah, a local leader of Rehman’s party, while Senator Abdur Rasheed and former lawmaker Maulana Jamaluddin, who were present on the stage, fortunately escaped unharmed. It is important to note that Maulana Fazlur Rehman was not at the rally during the time of the explosion.
Maulana Rehman, known for his pro-Taliban stance, leads a political party that is part of the coalition government in Islamabad. As the country gears up for upcoming elections, gatherings like these are being organized nationwide to mobilize supporters.
Bajur, once a tribal region but now a district, had been a haven for Islamic militants until recent years when the Pakistani military launched significant operations to eliminate militancy from the area. Despite these efforts, militants continue to target security forces and civilians, perpetuating violence in the region.
The aftermath of this devastating incident has left the region in mourning, as families grieve for their lost loved ones and the wounded fight for survival. Authorities are conducting thorough investigations to determine the perpetrators behind this cowardly act and ensure that justice is served for the victims.