Pak: 26 dead, 40 injured in suicide blast

The bomber blew himself up before the weekly Friday prayers.

Last Updated: Feb 17, 2012, 23:16 PM IST

Islamabad: A suicide bomber blew himself up
outside a Shia mosque in Pakistan`s restive northwestern
Kurram tribal region on Friday, killing 26 people and injuring
over 40 others.

The attacker, who was on a motorcycle, detonated his
explosive vest outside the mosque in the crowded Kurmi Bazar
at Parachinar, the main town of Kurram tribal region, which
has been rocked by sectarian violence over the past few years.

Officials told the media that 26 people were killed and
over 40 injured. They described the condition of some of the
injured as critical.

An emergency was declared at the hospital.
A faction of the banned Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed
responsibility for the attack, with a commander telling
reporters in the region that the Shia community was targeted
because it was allegedly involved in activities against the
militants.

The officials said they feared the casualties could rise
as the bomber had struck at a time when the market was full of
people.

The bomber blew himself up shortly before the weekly
Friday prayers.

Earlier reports had said that a car bomb had gone off at
the market.

Witnesses said several shops and vehicles were destroyed
by the blast.

Most of the casualties were civilians, they said.
The injured were taken to hospital by local residents in
private vehicles.

Security forces cordoned off the site of the attack and
launched a search operation.

Authorities imposed a curfew in Parachinar after an irate
mob protested against the attack.

Several persons were hurt when police carried out a baton
charge to disperse the protestors.

Hundreds of people have died in clashes between rival
Shia and Sunni tribesmen in Kurram Agency over the past four
years.

The situation in the region was exacerbated after Taliban
fighters began backing the Sunni tribesmen.

Kurram Agency is the only part of the restive tribal belt
bordering Afghanistan that has a sizeable Shia population.

Allama Nawaz Irfani, the cleric of the Jamia Masjid in
Parachinar, called for three days of mourning to protest the
attack.

Markets in the town will remain closed tomorrow as part
of the protest.

PTI