Dozens dead and wounded in Pakistan market blast

ISLAMABAD: At least 24 people died in a bomb blast in north-western Pakistan on Friday that left more than 100 wounded, a local official said.
The blast occurred at a marketplace in front of a mosque in the Parachinar area of Kurram Agency, which lies near the Afghan border.
“At least 24 people have been killed and around 108 people have been injured,” Latif Hussain from the city’s hospital said.
He said that 76 were admitted in Parachinar, while 32 were shifted to a hospital in Peshawar, the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhawa, via army helicopter.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the blast and reiterated his government’s resolve to eliminate the menace of terrorism from the country at all costs.
“The network of terrorists has already been broken and it is our national duty to continue this war until [we see] the complete annihilation of the scourge of terrorism from our soil,” read a statement issued by his office.
Senator Sajjad Hussain Turi said the perpetrators used a car bomb.
Jamatul Ahrar, a splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility.
Turi, a resident of Parachinar, said it was surprising that a car full of explosives had managed to dodge the tight security in the city. In January, Parachinar witnessed a similar attack that left at least 25 dead in the centre of the city.
Ghayur Hussain, a witness, said that the blast damaged surrounding buildings, including several shops. The market was shut after the blast, he added.
He said that the blast took place at around 10:30 am, just as many people were heading to the mosque for prayers.
Hussain said that a large number of people had gathered after the blast to protest against the failure of security forces. Kurram is one of the seven semi-autonomous agencies of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in north-western Pakistan.
The area was once a stronghold of the Taliban. The Pakistani army launched several operations in Kurram from 2008 onwards in order to flush the militants out. — dpa