44 killed, over 100 injured as suicide blast rips through JUI-F Bajaur convention

  • FC, Police and Rescue 1122 carry out rescue, relief operation; Army choppers shift critically injured to Peshawar
  • PM, President, US embassy, leaders of all political parties condemn suicide attack

BAJAUR/ISLAMABAD: At least 44 people were killed including JUI-F Tehsil Navagai General Secretary Maulana Hameedullah Haqqani and Khar Tehsil Emir Maulana Ziaullah Jan, while over 100 were wounded in a suicide blast at a workers’ convention of Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s (KP) Bajaur district on Sunday.

The explosion occurred when more than 400 JUI-F members and supporters gathered under a tent near Dubai More (Shindai) in the town of Khar, near the border with Afghanistan.

KP Health Minister Riaz Anwar told AFP that 44 people had been confirmed killed and over 100 wounded in the suicide attack.

“It was a suicide attack, with the bomber detonating himself in close proximity to the stage,” he added.

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

Bajaur District Emergency Officer Saad Khan confirmed that Maulana Ziaullah Jan, JUI-F emir in Khar tehsil, was also killed in the blast.

Speaking to the media later at night, KP Inspector General of Police Akhtar Hayat Khan said 10 kilograms of explosives were used in the blast.

He said ball bearings and other explosive materials had been collected from the site. “Investigation is underway and culprits will soon be arrested,” the provincial police chief promised.

Meanwhile, KP caretaker Information Minister Feroze Jamal Shah 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,” he said while speaking to Geo News.

“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,” he added.

Separately, Bajaur District Health Officer Dr Faisal Kamal said more than 150 injured people had been brought to the Bajaur District Headquarters Hospital.

“Over 35 people have been referred to the Timargarh hospital while 15 critically injured persons have been sent to Peshawar via a Pakistan Army helicopter,” he added.

KP Governor Ghulam Ali also confirmed the 30 deaths in the bomb explosion.

JUI-F central leader Hafiz Hamdullah said that he was also going to attend the workers convention but he did not join the public event due to his busy schedule. While condemning the bombing incident, Hafiz Hamdullah said that it is terrorism and chaos.

In a statement issued in the evening, KP caretaker Chief Minister Azam Khan sought a detailed report on the blast from police.

CM Khan also visited the Combined Military Hospital in Peshawar, where he met and inquired about the health of injured persons. He also expressed his best wishes for the speedy recovery of the wounded and directed the administration to provide them with the best medical facilities.

No one has claimed responsibility for the blast so far.

The Caretaker Provincial Minister Taj Mohammad Afridi condemned the blast and expressed grief over the horrific blast in Khar, Bajaur headquarters. The caretaker Provincial Minister is with the bereaved families in this hour of grief. Instructions have been issued to the relief department officials to take the necessary steps in time. The miscreants and anti-peace elements will be dealt with strictly, the caretaker provincial minister said in a message.

Rescue 1122 teams are being engaged in rescue operations at the accident site, said the Caretaker Minister, Relief, Rehabilitation and Resettlement. As soon as the information was received, ambulances of Rescue 1122 reached the spot, Taj Mohammad Afridi said.

The staff was alerted to the blast in Bajaur LRH, Asim Khan Spokesperson LRH told APP. Emergency is fully operational, all staff are present, Asim Khan said, adding after transferring the injured from Bajaur to Peshawar, all kinds of treatment will be provided. Emergency ICU and other wards are also ready, he added.

Army choppers start relief operation

Soon after the blast, Army choppers started a relief operation by airlifting the injured person to Combined Military Hospital (CMH) Peshawar, Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) and Hayatabad Medical Complex (HMC) Hospital, which are kept on emergency.

The Army choppers are being used to airlift the injured from district headquarters Khar to Peshawar wherein so far 44 have been killed as a result of the heavy blast during the ongoing JUI-F Worker Convention in Dubai Mor (Shindai Mor), Bajuar and more than 100 other injured.

Pakistan army helicopter is being provided from Khar to Peshawar for seriously injured people and IG FC Major General Noor Wali reached Bajaur to supervise the activities.

Rescue operations are underway by security forces and other law enforcement agencies as well. The area was cordoned off and the investigation was started. Security forces continue to donate blood to the injured, a doctor at Bajaur Hospital told APP.

Maulana Fazlur Rehman demands high-level inquiry

Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM) head and Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam Fazl (JUI-F) supremo Maulana Fazlur Rehman demanded a high-level inquiry into the Bajaur bomb blast in which a large number of party workers lost their lives and over 200 got injured.

JUI-F supremo Maulana Fazlur Rehman expressed sorrow over the bomb explosion and demanded the prime minister and caretaker KP chief minister conduct a high-level inquiry.

He prayed for eternal rest for the departed souls and the early recovery of the injured workers. He appealed to the JUI-F workers to stay peaceful and immediately reach the hospital to donate blood for the injured persons.

He also demanded the federal and provincial government to provide best medical facilities to the wounded persons.

Moreover, Maulana Fazlur Rehman telephoned Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and expressed serious concerns over the Bajaur bomb blast. He demanded PM Shehbaz Sharif to provide a helicopter for shifting the wounded persons to Peshawar.

The JUI-F spokesperson said that the premier directed to provide a helicopter. The spokesperson said the JUI-F supremo decided to return to Pakistan after cancelling his private visit to a foreign country.

PM condemns explosion in JUI-F workers’ convention

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif Sunday strongly condemned the explosion in the workers’ convention of Jamiat Ulema e Islam (F) in Khar, Bajaur.

The prime minister expressed grief and sorrow over the loss of precious lives.

He condoled with the chief of JUI-F Maulana Fazlur Rehman, leaders and workers over the unfortunate incident.

He sympathized with the bereaved families over the martyrdom of Amir of JUI(F) Khar Maulana Ziaullah Jan and other office bearers and workers.

He said the terrorists targeted those who advocated the cause of Islam, the Quran and Pakistan.

Terrorists were enemies of Pakistan and they would be eliminated, he said adding the elements involved in the incident would be meted out strict punishment.

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

PM Shehbaz 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.

Later in a tweet, PM Shehbaz said attacks on political parties showed that the enemies were against Pakistan’s democratic system.

“Those responsible will be identified and punished. The Pakistani nation, law enforcement agencies and our protectors will never allow such cowardly tactics of the enemy to succeed. The entire nation, including me, is an equal participant in the grief of the families of those who were martyred in the incident,” he added.

Meanwhile, President Arif Alvi prayed for eternal peace for the departed souls and commiserated with the bereaved families. He also wished speedy recovery for the injured and emphasised the timely provision of medical assistance to them.

In a tweet, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah vowed to bring the perpetrators of today’s attack to justice. “The cowardly acts of terrorists cannot dampen our spirits.”

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.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan said he was saddened to learn about the blast and extended condolences to the families of the victims.

“The rise in terror incidents across Pakistan particularly in KP, calls for an urgent need to reconsider our priorities,” he said, adding that the authorities should focus on eliminating terrorism.

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.

The US Embassy in Islamabad also extended its deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims who lost their lives in the blast in Bajaur district.

“We strongly condemn this heinous act of violence, which resulted in the loss of innocent lives and caused harm to many others. Such acts of terror have no place in a peaceful and democratic society. We stand in solidarity with the people of Pakistan during this difficult time,” it said.

Saleem Jadoon
Saleem Jadoon
News Editor at Pakistan Today


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