20 killed, over 100 injured as blast rips through rally preparations in northwestern Pakistan

20 killed, over 100 injured as blast rips through rally preparations in northwestern Pakistan

Explosion occurred ahead of governing coalition partner's public meeting in tribal Bajuar district

By Aamir Latif

KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) — At least 20 people were killed and dozens injured in an explosion at a public rally in northwestern Pakistan on Sunday evening, police and local media reported.

The explosion occurred at around 5 p.m. local time (0100GMT), an hour before the event was scheduled to begin in the tribal Bajaur district, located near the border with Afghanistan, police said.

The rally had been organized by the Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI), a coalition partner in the federal government.

Health officials fear the death toll could rise as several of the over 50 injured are in critical condition.

Footage aired on local broadcaster Samaa News showed JUI members and rescue workers carrying bodies and injured to ambulances as plumes of smoke billowed upward.

No immediate details were provided on the cause of the blast, the fourth in less than three weeks in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Hafiz Hamdullah, a Senator from the JUI confirmed the death toll and the number of injured to reporters.

JUI staff were making arrangements for the rally when the explosion erupted, Hamdullah added.

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