At least 40 people were tragically killed and over 130 others injured during a powerful bomb explosion at a conservative Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) party rally in Pakistan’s northwestern Bajur district. The attack took place on the outskirts of Khar and has raised concerns about the upcoming elections in the country. While no group has claimed responsibility yet, local authorities suspect it was a suicide bombing. The incident has drawn widespread condemnation from political leaders and citizens alike.
Attack Details and Casualties:
On Sunday, a political rally organized by the JUI-F party was targeted by a powerful bomb blast. District police officer Nazir Khan confirmed the death toll at 40, while Riaz Anwar, the health minister for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, reported 44 confirmed fatalities and over 100 wounded. Among the victims was JUI-F leader Ziaullah Jan.
Initial Suspicions Point Towards TTP:
While no group has officially claimed responsibility, there are fears that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as the Pakistan Taliban, may be behind the attack. The TTP, which has intensified its attacks since the breakdown of a ceasefire with the government, has been demanding the imposition of Islamic law and the release of key members arrested by the government.
Government Condemnation and International Reactions:
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari strongly condemned the attack and expressed their condolences to the victims’ families. Security analyst Zeeshan Salahuddin noted that the TTP has regained momentum and is receiving support from Afghanistan, where the Taliban recently returned to power. The Afghan Taliban’s spokesman, Zabiullah Mujahid, condemned the bombing, distancing the group from the attack.
Possible Involvement of ISIL (ISIS):
Another group under suspicion is the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL or ISIS), which has been active in neighboring Afghanistan and has members known to cross the porous border into Pakistan. The JUI-F party has been targeted by ISIL in the past due to its alleged support for Taliban sentiments, leading to concerns that Pakistan may have to address multiple threats in the future.
The devastating attack on the JUI-F party rally has resulted in over 40 fatalities and left more than 130 people injured. The absence of immediate claims of responsibility has led to speculations about the involvement of either the TTP or ISIL. The incident has prompted strong condemnation from Pakistan’s political leaders and the international community, as the country faces mounting challenges in countering terrorist threats in the region.