AFP Police are investigating the site of the attack
NOS Nieuws•vandaag, 20:08
The Islamic State terror group has claimed responsibility for a suicide bombing in Pakistan that left dozens dead and nearly 200 injured.
The attack took place at a political rally of the conservative Sunni political party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam. The meeting was in the town of Khar, in the northwestern region of Bajur. According to local police, hundreds of people were present.
Some of the injured are in serious condition, according to a local health official. 54 deaths have now been reported, but the death toll could rise further.
Today the first victims were buried in Bajur:
EPAN’s relatives bury victims of the suicide bombing
IS-affiliated Telegram channel Amaq wrote that IS was responsible for the attack and called it part of IS’s war on democracy. The regional branch of IS has been active in the northwestern region since 2015.
Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) is the political party of Maulana Fazlur Rehman. He is considered a hardliner and is a supporter of the fundamentalist Taliban, who have power in neighboring Afghanistan. Rehman himself was not present at the meeting. JUI-F is part of the government in Pakistan.
Geweld in Bajur
The Bajur region used to be a safe haven for Islamist militants. In recent years, the army has carried out numerous attacks in the area to drive out the militants. But extremist fighters still regularly attack security forces and civilians.
Since last year, after the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) declared a ceasefire with the government, violence in the country has increased. The Pakistani branch of the Taliban is a rival of IS in the area. TTP previously announced that it was not behind yesterday’s attack.
There will be elections in Pakistan next fall. The prime minister calls the attack on the political meeting an attack on democracy. If more such attacks take place, it could be a justification for postponing the elections, the Reuters news agency quoted a former Pakistani counter-terrorism chief as saying.