Death toll from Pakistan suicide bombing rises to 54
8 more die in hospitals, while over 80 injured people being treated in Bajaur, Peshawar, and other districts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province
By Aamir Latif
KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) - The death toll from Sunday's suicide bombing in northwest Pakistan has risen to 54, with eight critically wounded people succumbing to their injuries on Monday.
Eight more people died in hospitals on Monday, bringing the death toll from the suicide bombing in Bajaur tribal district to 54, Shaukat Abbas, head of the police counter-terrorism cell in Peshawar, the capital of the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, told reporters.
Over 80 people were injured, many of them critically, and are being treated at various hospitals in Bajaur, Peshawar, and other nearby districts, he added.
A suspected suicide bomber, who is believed to have acted alone, blew himself up an hour before a public rally organized by Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI) in the tribal Bajaur district, near the border with Afghanistan.
There is no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. However, police have launched an investigation into the terrorist attack, which was one of the deadliest in recent months.
The government has already declared an emergency in several hospitals, bringing in additional paramedics to help with the overburdened staff.
According to officials, 36 bodies have been handed over to families for burial so far.
Local media reported that funeral prayers for the deceased were held in various parts of Bajaur amid emotional scenes.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Army Peshawar Corps Commander Lt-Gen. Hassan Azhar Hayat visited the district headquarters hospital in Khar, the main town of Bajaur, to inquire about the injured, state-run Pakistan Television reported.
He also met with the victims' families to express his condolences.
- Rising tide of attacks
The JUI has long been a target of the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a conglomerate of several militant groups in the country, for opposing suicide bombings and terrorist attacks on Pakistani security forces.
JUI chief and former opposition leader Maulana Fazl-ur-Rehman escaped two suspected suicide attacks in 2011 and 2014.
Pakistan has seen an uptick in terrorist attacks since the Afghan Taliban stormed back into power in neighboring Afghanistan in August 2021.
Islamabad accuses "Afghan-based" TTP militants of being behind the attacks, a charge denied by the Taliban interim administration, which condemned the attack on Sunday.
- Condemnations pour in
The Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) and the General Secretariat of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) have condemned the suicide bombing in Bajaur.
GCC Secretary General Jasem Albudaiwi issued a statement on Monday, saying: "The GCC rejects all forms of violence, extremism, and terrorism that aim to destabilize security and stability, and are inconsistent with human values and principles."
OIC Secretary General Hissein Brahim Taha also strongly condemned this "heinous crime" and reaffirmed the OIC's solidarity with Pakistan in its fight against extremism and terrorism.
Both expressed their condolences to the victims' families, as well as the government and people of Pakistan and wished the injured a speedy recovery.
Meanwhile, China expressed "deep shock" over the suicide attack, saying it "firmly opposes all forms of terrorism and strongly condemns the bomb attack targeting civilians."
"China firmly supports Pakistan in advancing its action to counter terrorism and firmly committing to eradicating terrorism, upholding social stability, and protecting people’s lives," said the Foreign Ministry said in a statement issued on Monday.
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