PARACHINAR / PESHAWAR: At least 23 people were killed and 37 others injured in a suspected suicide blast in a busy market in Parachinar on Friday.
According to local people, the powerful explosion after Friday prayers ripped through Kurrmi bazaar. There were three children among the dead.
Another three people died and 12 were injured when security personnel opened fire when people enraged by the massacre started protesting and attacking property.
The Kurram Agency administration imposed a curfew in the town and closed the Thall-Parachinar road for an indefinite period.
Officials said the critically injured people had been taken to the Combined Military Hospital in Thall.
Kohat Commissioner Sahibzada Muhammad Anees said: “Preliminary investigation shows it was a suicide attack.” According to him, 13 people had died and 31 were injured.
After the explosion, a mob tried to attack property of people belonging to the rival sect and security personnel had to open fire to disperse them, he said. He claimed that seven people had been injured in the firing.
He said the administration had called additional force for deployment in sensitive areas.
“The situation is under control but tension prevails,” the official said. The incident took place at a time when Sunni and Shia communities in the area were following a government-backed peace accord and displaced people were returning to their homes.
The Thall-Parachinar road was opened last year after the agreement. Witnesses said people were leaving the main mosque in the area when the explosion took place.
There were reports that a motorbike parked in the market had exploded. Several shops and a bank were badly damaged.
The place was littered with human flesh. Local people took the bodies and the injured to the town’s main hospital. Five critically injured people were taken to Thall and Peshawar.
Officials said protesters took to the streets after the attack and tried to attack a hotel where some people were staying.
Security personnel first used tear gas and later opened fire when the mob tried to set the hotel on fire. Clashes between the personnel and rioters continued for about two hours. Residents said the town was without electricity and security forces had started patrolling.
Local elders declared a three-day mourning and appealed to people to remain peaceful.
Reuters adds: Some officials said 26 people had been killed after the suicide bomber detonated his explosive vest near the mosque in the Shia neighbourhood.
A leader of a breakaway faction of the banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, Fazal Saeed, claimed responsibility for the attack.
“We have targeted the Shia community of Parachinar because they were involved in activities against us,” he said.
“We warn the political administration of Parachinar to stop siding with the community in all our disputes.”