Dawn – ‘Terrorists will fail in their attempt to regain lost relevance,’ army chief says

Ali Akbar

“Terrorists will fail in their attempt to regain lost relevance,” Army Chief General Qamar Javed Bajwa said on Saturday after a blast at a vegetable market in Kurram Agency’s Parachinar area killed 25 people.

According to a statement issued by Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the army chief said terrorists will fail at all fronts.

At least 25 people were killed and 87 others were injured in the blast at the Sabzi Mandi, a spokesperson for the health directorate of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas said in a statement issued in Peshawar.

Ikramullah Khan, a senior government official in Parachinar, said that the blast was caused by an improvised explosive device (IED) which was hidden in a vegetable box. The explosion was remote-controlled, a bomb disposal squad official said.

In a text message sent to journalists, the proscribed Lashkar-i-Jhangvi al-Alami claimed that it, along with Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) splinter Shehryar Mehsud group carried out the attack. However, the Shehryar Mehsud group did not independently claim the bombing.

Noorullah Khan, an official in Parachinar hospital, said that 11 bodies and more than 40 injured had been taken to the hospital.

According to the statement issued by ISPR, the blast took place at 08:50am.

The injured were shifted to agency headquarters hospital.

Dr Sabir Hussain at the Parachinar main hospital said 11 critically wounded people died during treatment. He said there are still several people in serious condition who are being shifted to other hospitals for better care.

‘Bodies strewn around’

Government official Shahid Khan said the explosion took place when the market was crowded with retailers buying fruits and vegetables.

Ashiq Hussain, who was lightly wounded, was being treated in Parachinar hospital. He said he was among the people purchasing fruits and vegetables loaded on a van when the explosion took place.

“There was a big bang and a dark cloud of smoke and dust I saw before passing out,” he said.

Hussain said he saw bleeding bodies and severed limbs and heard cries when he came back to his senses. “I was just bleeding from my leg,” he said. “Thank God I am alive.”

“There was no ambulance, and people had to carry the injured in cars and private pickup trucks to the hospital,” Hussain told Reuters.

Army personnel and Frontier Corps’s Quick Reaction Force reached the blast site and cordoned off the area. Army helicopters were also flown to the site to evacuate the injured to hospitals, the ISPR said.

According to the ISPR statement, General Bajwa directed the troops to make efforts for quick evacuation of the blast victims and ensure they are provided “best medical care”.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif expressed grief over the latest loss of life, his office said in a statement.

Terrorism not new to Kurram

In December, 2015 a similar blast in a makeshift market in Parachinar had killed 25 people. Two militant groups, Lashkar-i-Jhangvi Al Alami and Ansarul Mujahideen based in South Waziristan Agency, had claimed responsibility for that blast.

Kurram is one of the most sensitive tribal areas as it borders three Afghan provinces and at one point was one of the key routes for militant movement across the border. It has witnessed scores of attacks and kidnappings for ransom incidents in the past several years.

The agency is adjacent to North Waziristan where Operation Zarb-i-Azb is in progress against the Tehreek-i-Taliban and other insurgent groups. The military had also launched an offensive against militants in 2011.

Parachinar is the administrative headquarters of the agency near the Afghan border.

It is small garrison town developed by the British Army in the foothill of Spin Ghar (White Mountain) in mid-1895. The town’s total population is about 40,000 comprising people of different tribes, races and faiths.



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