Deadly blast hits Pakistan border city

Pakistani security officials and residents gather at the site of a powerful explosion at a market in Parachinar, capital of the Kurram tribal district, on 31 March 2017
Report’s say the car bomb exploded as people gathered for prayers

At least 22 people have been killed and more than 70 injured in a blast outside a mosque in north-west Pakistan.

The explosion happened in the city of Parachinar, a mainly Shia Muslim area on the Afghan border.

Reports say a car packed with explosives was left near the women’s entrance of the mosque as people gathered for Friday prayers.

A faction of the Pakistani Taliban (TTP), Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), said it had carried out the attack.

Many shops and vehicles close to the mosque were damaged in the powerful blast.

“People were screaming for help… When I looked back everything was filled with dust,” shopkeeper Sardar Hussain told AFP news agency.

The Pakistani Army sent a helicopter to help take the injured to hospital.

A doctor at a local hospital said an appeal was being made for blood donors to help treat the wounded.

“Patients are being brought to us in private cars and ambulances and we have received over three dozen patients so far,” the doctor told Reuters news agency.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attack, saying his government would keep working to “eliminate the menace of terrorism”.

It was followed by protests in Parachinar as angry crowds accused the security forces of failing to protect them.

Residents gathered at the scene of the blast
Residents gathered at the scene of the blast
A map showing Parachinar in Pakistan, where a bomb has killed at least 18 people at a marketplace
A map showing Parachinar in Pakistan, where a bomb has killed at least 18 people at a marketplace

Parachinar was also targeted in January, when a bomb blast in a vegetable market killed at least 20 people. That attack was also claimed by JuA.

Nationally, Pakistan has seen an upsurge in violence since the beginning of the year. Last month, more than 80 people were killed in an attack at a Sufi shrine in Sindh province. The so-called Islamic State militant group said it carried out that attack.

Most of the radical Sunni militant groups view the Sufis and Shia Muslims as heretics.

Parachinar is the capital of the Kurram, one of Pakistan’s seven tribal districts.

These areas are governed according to local laws and customs, and are known for sectarian clashes between Sunni and Shia Muslim groups.

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