At least 24 people have been killed and over seventy injured Sunday in the northwestern Pakistan city of Parachinar, capital of Kurram Agency, after a bomb blast ripped through a crowded bazaar.
Death toll may further rise in the Shi’ite area, said officials as many are seriously wounded.
Banned Sunni Islamist group Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) claimed responsibility of the attack saying it was a revenge for the killing of Muslims by Iran and Syrian President.
LeJ’s sectarian ideology to great extent is aligned with the Islamic State (IS) in Syria and Iraq. Similar to the IS they too wants to set up a cross-border caliphate killing Shi’ite and establish Sunni theocracy.
Earlier this week Shi’ite unit of Pakistani fighters were reported to have joined the war against IS and most of them are from Parachinar. The unit is known as Zeinabiyoun.
If believed to local people, hundreds of people from Pakistan are fighting in Syria.
LeJ spokesman Ali bin Sufyan said the people of Parachinar should not fight against the IS representing Shi’ites.
Meanwhile, rescue team has rushed to the crime scene and search operation has been launched by the security forces. A bomb disposal squad is trying to ascertain nature of the explosion.
The injured have been taken to the Agency Headquarters Hospital for treatment.
Kurram is on the border of Afghanistan and is a tribal agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) area of Pakistan. It is governed according to local laws and customs.
After the invasion of United States in Afghanistan the Taliban and al-Qaeda militants fled to Kurram.
However, the overall violence levels decreased in the area after military-led offensive Zarb-Azb started blocking the sources of their movement across the country along with blocking funding and communication.
Earlier this year in July the leader and founder of LeJ, Malik Ishaq, along with his two sons and some of the top officials were killed in police custody while trying to escape.
The killing triggered tension in Ishaq’s hometown of Rahim Yar Khan, Dera Ghazi Khan and Bahwalpur. A police van was attacked by his supporters and several vociferous protest was organized too. Provincial government ordered more security at the Imambargahs and Shia people were advised to suspend religious gatherings.
Ishaq founded LeJ in 1996. In the 1980s he joined sectarian organization Sipah-i-Sahaba Pakistan (SSP) and prior to it he had also fought the Afghan jihad.
He was first imprisoned in 1997 on charges of masterminding several attacks against the Shia community, murder, intimidation and death threats. In July 2011 he was freed. In 2013 he attacked the Shias with two suicide bombings killing more than 180 people.
The Sunday’s bombing proves LeJ can mount devastating attacks.
Meanwhile, the linkage of the blast with Syria war sets alarm for the Pakistani officials who earlier played down reports the IS is trying to establish a foothold in their soil.
It is not to forget the group once had open support of ISI, powerful spy agency of Pakistan and called as Inter-Services Intelligence.
LeJ earlier was also blamed for the attacks on Sri Lankan cricket team in 2009.