At least 44 killed in suicide attack at Pakistan rally

A suicide bomber has detonated explosives at a political rally in northwestern Pakistan, killing at least 44 people and wounding nearly 200, according to officials.

The blast took place on Sunday at a gathering of the conservative Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) party on the outskirts of Khar in Pakistan’s northwestern Bajaur district, which borders Afghanistan.


Provincial police said in a statement that the suicide bomber set off his explosives vest close to the stage where several senior party leaders were sitting. It said initial investigations suggested the ISIL (ISIS) group could be behind the attack and officers were still investigating.

The armed group has been active in neighbouring Afghanistan after the fall of President Ashraf Ghani’s government. It opposes Afghanistan’s Taliban administration and has members known to cross the porous mountainous border and hide in the Peshawar area.

Feroz Jamal, the provincial information minister, told The Associated Press news agency that so far, 44 people had been “martyred” and nearly 200 wounded in the attack.

An emergency has been declared in the hospitals of Bajaur and adjoining areas where most of the wounded were taken, said district police officer Nazir Khan. The critically wounded were transported from Bajaur to hospitals in the provincial capital Peshawar by military helicopters.

“There was dust and smoke around and I was under some injured people from where I could hardly stand up, only to see chaos and some scattered limbs,” said Adam Khan, 45, who was knocked to the ground by the blast and hit by splinters in his leg and both hands.