Aurakzai blast: Three Sikhs among 32 killed in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's province; explosion targeted Shia shrine

Peshawar: At least 32 people, including three Pakistani-Sikhs, were killed and more than 40 others were injured on Friday when a suicide bomber triggered a powerful bomb blast at a busy market outside a religious seminary in the country's restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, police said.

According to the initial investigation, an improvised explosive device was planted in a bike that was used for transporting vegetables to the popular Friday Market (Juma Bazar) near an imambargah, a Shia religious place, in Orakzai tribal district's Kalaya area, bordering Afghanistan.

Representational image. Reuters

Representational image. Reuters

"This is a Friday bazaar, where hundreds of people had gathered for groceries," Deputy Commissioner Khalid Iqbal said. "The ground is then used for Friday prayers as well," he added.

At least 32 people were killed while more than 40 others injured, Dawn news quoted district administration officials as saying.

"Three Sikh traders and three children were also among the dead in the Orakzai blast," Iqbal told PTI.

The minority Sikh community in the area was previously displaced by the Taliban that controlled the region prior to the military operation in 2010, Samaa TV reported.

Officials said that most of the victims were minority Shia Muslims, who in the past were also targeted in the area. "Three children were among those killed. The remote-controlled bomb was attached to a motorcycle," officials said.

"I was buying vegetables at a distance from the bomb site," Karam Khan, who accompanied an injured person to the hospital in Kohat, said.  "There was a huge explosion and I woke up with blood splashed all over the place and there were body parts everywhere," he said about the gory scene.

The area has been cordoned off and an investigation into the incident is underway. An emergency has been declared in the region's hospitals to handle the situation.

The explosion in lower Orakzai is the second terror attack in Pakistan on Friday.

Earlier on Friday, an attack targeting the Chinese consulate in Karachi's Clifton area was foiled by security forces. Four people, including two security personnel and two civilians, were killed in the attack. Three terrorists were also gunned down.

Prime Minister Imran Khan strongly condemned the terrorist attack in Orakzai tribal area and said: "My prayers go to the victims & their families".

"Let there be no doubt in anyone's mind that we will crush the terrorists, whatever it takes," he said in a tweet.

Human rights minister Shireen Mazari blamed the US failure in Afghanistan for the attack and warned Pakistan to be prepared for more such incidents. She condemned the horrific terror attack. "As the US fails in Afghanistan, Pakistan should be prepared for fallout and we must ensure greater security for our tribal areas especially protection of our people," she tweeted.

The attack was claimed by a separatist militant group from Pakistan's southwestern province of Balochistan, which is at the centre of a major Chinese investment project in the country. "We have carried out this attack and our action is continuing," the spokesman for the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), Geand Baloch, told AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location. The BLA is just one of the militant groups operating in Balochistan, Pakistan's largest and poorest province, which is rife with ethnic, sectarian and separatist insurgencies.

"Our enemies are not happy with peace in the province," provincial Chief Minister Mehmood Khan said while condemning the attack.

In 2011, 30 people including 10 cops, were killed and over 50 injured when a suicide bomber rammed his explosive-laden van into the building of the Communication and Works Department.
Orakzai, a terror hotbed, is one of the seven semi-autonomous tribal regions of Pakistan which has a porus border with Afghanistan.

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Nov 24, 2018 08:57:01 IST

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