PESHAWAR: A blast at public meeting of the Jamiat Ulema-i-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) in central Kurram tribal region's Para Chamkani area in Sewak village killed at least 18 people and injured more than 100 others on Monday.
Assistant Political Agent of central Kurram region, Mohammad Fazal told Dawn.com that at least 15 people had died in the incident whereas 42 others were injured.
Moreover Political agent Riaz Masood confirmed that the explosion occurred when a planted device detonated inside the madressa where the rally was taking place.
A rally of JUI-F's Munir Khan Orakzai, a former lawmaker from the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) who is contesting the upcoming elections from NA-38 constituency, was taking place when the explosion occurred.
Dr Abdul Qadeer Orakzai , the brother of Munir Khan, told Dawn.com that Munir Orakzai was getting off the stage when the blast occurred and that he had suffered minor injuries.
Sources also said that another JUI-F candidate of NA-37 constituency, Ainuddin Shakir, was also injured in the blast. The condition of both the wounded candidates was stated to be out of danger.
A list issued by the Agency Surgeon Dr Inayatur Rehman at Central Kurram’s Sadda Hospital said that 13 dead bodies were brought to the Sadda Hospital while 56 injured were brought who were later referred to the Agency Headquarters Hospital Parachinar.
Dr Zaid Hussain at the Parachinar Hospital confirmed that 5 bodies and over 50 injured were brought to the hospital.
However, some independent sources say that the death toll could be high as some bodies were shifted directly to homes from the Para Chamkani area.
Emergency and rescue forces reached the spot and shifted the victims to nearby hospitals. Security forces cordoned off the area as a probe into the incident went underway.
Meanwhile, the Pakistani Taliban militants have claimed responsibility of the attack on Munir Orakzai.
Speaking to Dawn.com via telephone from an undisclosed location, the outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said Munir Orakzai had been enjoying the perks and privileges during the Muhsarraf and Zardari regime and now he wanted to shelter under JUI-F umbrella which is not acceptable to the TTP.
“He is attacked by the TTP and there are other reasons for the attack as well as the people know the role of Muneer Orakzai in the past,” Ihsan remarked.
Munir Orakzai had previously won the elections independently from the constituency, this is the first time that political parties are participating in the election process in the tribal areas.
Although the TTP had earlier announced that the organisation would not target the JUI-F, Jamaat-i-Islami (JI), Pakistan Tehrik-i-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) candidates despite terming democracy and the elections as un-Islamic but the TTP had threatened Munir Orakzai in the past for handing over some al Qaeda fighters to the Pakistani government when they had fled from Afghanistan to the central Kurram Agency during Tora Bora operations.
In the video released by the TTP on February 19, 2011 showing former Inter Services Intelligence (ISI) official Colonel Imam, TTP chief Hakimulla Meshud, Hakimullah had accused Colonel Imam’s son Major Nouman and Munir Orakzai of handing over al Qaeda militants and their family members to Pakistani authorities who further forwarded them over to the United States.
Most of the political analysts believed that Munir Orkazai might have been targeted because of the Arab fighters issue rather than being part of JUI-F which had never been on the TTP hit list of the parties, whom they had warned to be targeted.
Mualana Ainuddin Shakir, the JUI-F candidate for NA-37 who was also attending the gathering, confirmed to Dawn.com that he was slightly injured in the blast and it happened soon after the rally ended.
He added that most of the injured are shifted to Sadda and Parachinar.
Moreover, Hafiz Daulat Khan alias Hafiz Ahmed has been appointed as new Ameer (chieftain) of Kurram Agency by TTP Shura and the above mentioned operation was his first achievement, TTP spokesman told Dawn.com.