Deadly bombing attack at a political rally in Northwestern Pakistan kills 45 and injures 200

The deadly explosion occurred on Sunday 30th July in Khar, which is situated within the capital city of Bajour, close to the Afghanistan border and was clearly targeted at the hundreds of supporters who had gathered for a political rally in support of political party leader Maulana Fazlur Rehman. Rehman is the president of Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam and also the president of the Pakistan Democratic Movement, a coalition of political parties which was responsible for ousting Imran Khan from his role as Prime Minister in a no-confidence motion in 2022.

The explosion was self detonated

Eye-witness reports suggest that the explosion was a self detonated bomb, which caused the deaths of as many as 45 people and injured over 200 – many of whom had to be airlifted to a hospital some distance away in Peshawar. A state of emergency has been declared in hospitals across the region.

Families and loved ones gather outside hospitals after bombing attack

No claims for responsibility, but plenty of speculation

There have not as yet been any claims made in respect of the responsibility of the bomb and given the toxic political environment in the run up to parliamentary elections scheduled to take place in November, it is expected that there will be multiple accusations directed towards the former Prime Minister, Imran Khan, whose political party has been all but destroyed. Khan faces multiple court charges including that he was the mastermind behind anti-government protests in May. Most pundits believe that the explosion was the work of ISIS which regularly operates across the border with Afghanistan.

One of the Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI) party leaders, Abdul Rasheed, who was at the event said the attack was clearly intended to prevent JUI from participating in the November parliamentary elections. He said:

‘Many of our fellows lost lives and many more wounded in this incident. I will ask the federal and provincial administrations to fully investigate this incident and provide due compensation and medical facilities to the affected ones’

Abandoned sandals left at the site in the aftermath of the explosion

Regional and international condemnations pour in

Condemnations of the attack came from both the Prime Minister, Shabaz Sharif and the President, Arif Alvi. Other party leaders very quickly followed suit in issuing condemnations for the atrocity.

The US State Department also issued a note of condemnation and the US Embassy spokesperson said:

‘We strongly condemn this heinious act of violence, which resulted in the loss of innocent lives and caused harm to many others. Such acts of terror have no place in a peaceful and democratic society. We stand in solidarity with the people of Pakistan during this difficult time’

The Iran Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Nasser Kanaani condemned the attack and said:

‘The Islamic Republic of Iran stands with the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and expresses its sympathy to the families of the victims of this terrorist act and prays to God to bestow health upon the wounded’

The bombing took place in an area historically known as a stronghold for the Pakistan Taliban, which were ousted from the area by the Pakistan army over the last few years.

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