PESHAWAR: At least 18 people were killed in a blast at the Sabzi Mandi (vegetable market) in Kurram Agency’s Parachinar area on Saturday morning, a government official said.
“At least 18 people have been killed and 47 wounded,” Ikramullah Khan, a senior government official in Parachinar, told AFP.
Khan said the blast was caused by an improvised explosive device (IED) which was hidden in a vegetable box.
Noorullah Khan, an official in Parachinar hospital, told AFP that 11 bodies and more than 40 injured had been taken to the hospital.
A statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said the blast took place at 08:50am.
The injured were shifted to agency headquarters hospital.
Dr Sabir Hussain said many of the wounded were in critical condition and death toll could dramatically jump up.
Government official Shahid Khan said the explosion took place when the market was crowded with retailers buying fruits and vegetables. He said the nature of the explosion is being investigated.
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.
No group has claimed responsibility for the blast as yet.
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. -DN
THE PASHTUN TIMES