At least 40 people died and over 200 were seriously injured in a blast at a Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) convention in the Khar tehsil of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Bajaur district on Sunday, 30 July. The blast took place when a convention of the radical Islamic party was going on, where more than 500 members and supporters had gathered in the Khar tensil of the Bajaur district, near the border of Afghanistan.
The explosion caused a by suicide bomber took place at around 4 PM on 30 July. Bajaur official Khan stated that Maulana Ziaullah Jan, a leader of the JUI-F, also died in the blast. According to media reports, a local journalist is one among the 200 injured in the attack.
Police said the death toll could rise further as many have been taken to the hospital in critical condition. Serious wounded people were being airlifted to Peshawar for better medical care.
“I can confirm that in the hospital we have 39 dead bodies, with 123 wounded that includes 17 patients in a serious condition,” Riaz Anwar, the health minister for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, told AFP.
According to the Bajaur District Health Officer Faisal Kamal, the death toll stands at 45. The officials stated that the injured individuals were taken to the Bajaur District Headquarters Hospital, and those in critical condition were transferred to the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar by a Pakistan Army helicopter.
A video of the moment the explosion took place at the event has appeared on social media. The blast took place at the middle of the gathering, resulting in high number of casualties.
#BREAKING : At least 40 people were killed 200 injured in an explosion in the rally of Political Party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI) in Khar, the headquarters of Baujar district. Khyber Pakhtunkhwa #Pakistan pic.twitter.com/To2dTIRiW6
— Abdulhaq Omeri (@AbdulhaqOmeri) July 30, 2023
According to a witness, Rahim Shah, more than 500 people were present at the JUI-F convention when the blast occurred. “We were listening to a bayan [sermon] when a powerful explosion knocked me unconscious,” he said. Till now, no group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
JUI-F chief Maulana Fazlur Rehman sought an inquiry into the attack from Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and the KP government.
Following the incident, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif strongly condemned the blast at the JUI-F convention. He said terrorists targeted those who advocated the cause of Islam, the Holy Quran, and Pakistan, as reported by Dawn.
In a statement released by the Prime Minister’s Office, Sharif asserted, “Terrorists are enemies of Pakistan and they will be eliminated.”
Earlier, JUI-F leader Hafiz Hamdullah stated that because of personal commitments, he could not attend the convention that he was supposed to attend. Hamdullah categorically stated that this is not jihad but terrorism and is an attack on humanity. Speaking to Geo News, the JUI-F leader said, “I strongly condemn the blast and want to give a message to the people behind it that this is not jihad but terrorism.”
Pakistan People’s Party (PPP)’s official Twitter handle read that Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari condemned the blast and extended condolences to the bereaved. Demanding that terrorists and their planners should be eliminated, he said, “The federal and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governments should bring the patrons of terrorists to justice.”
Former president Asif Ali Zardari categorically stated that terrorists were everyone’s enemies. He asserted that Pakistan has to get rid of the nurseries of terrorism. He stated, “Like Swat, the entire country needs to be cleansed of the nurseries of terrorism.”
Condemning the blast, Jamaat-e-Islami Senator Mushtaq Ahmed alleged that the federal and provincial governments, forces, intelligence agencies, and civil administration have completely failed to protect the people.” Ahmed said, “The return of terrorism proves that the government’s security plan/policy has failed and tribal districts of KP are in the middle of this fire.”
He also demanded that a joint in-camera session of the Parliament should be called to address the issue of rising terrorism in Pakistan.
For those unversed, Maulana Fazlur Rehman-led Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazl is not a fringe outfit. It has been an active player in shaping a Pakistani Army-favoured outcome in the political sphere, for which they have staged multiple long marches throughout the nation and it is a radical orthodox group that has spearheaded many radical Islamists protest.