KURRAM AGENCY/PESHAWAR - As many as 25 people were killed and over 60 others injured Saturday morning when a powerful bomb exploded in the main grocery market in Parachinar, the headquarters of Kurram Agency.

Local sources and security forces said that an improvised explosive device weighing about 20 kilograms had been planted in a fruit crate which went off around 8:45am in the congested new Sabzi Mandi (vegetable market), where a large number of fruit and grocery vendors were present.

Political Agent Kurram Agency Nasrullah Khan confirmed that 23 persons died on the spot, while another two succumbed to injuries later.

Local sources said more than 60 people were injured in the bombing. KP Governor Zafar Iqbal Jhagra said at least 12 of the wounded were in critical condition.

The market lies in a Shia dominated area and is frequently visited by shopkeepers and vendors coming from far-flung areas of the agency to purchase fruit and grocery.

The Mehsud faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) claimed they had carried out the attack in coordination.

Video footage from the site showed chaotic scenes with people running and shouting in panic and victims strewn in front of vegetables shops among smashed crates and pushcarts. Victims could be heard screaming and crying while ambulances arrived at the site with sirens blaring.

Ikramullah Khan, a senior government official in Parachinar, said the blast was caused by an IED hidden in a vegetable box.

Sajid Hussain Turi, a member of the National Assembly from the region, said a homemade bomb had been planted in a pile of tomatoes and exploded as people gathered in the market.

An eyewitness, Ashiq Hussain, said he saw bodies strewn around the market and wounded people crying out for help. “There was no ambulance, and people had to carry the injured in cars and private pickup trucks to the hospital,” he said.

A heavy contingent of security forces and Frontier Constabulary rushed to the scene and cordoned off the area. Security around all Imambargahs and other sensitive installations was beefed up after the blast.

Most of the killed and injured were handcart owners and shopkeepers who were immediately rushed to the agency headquarters hospital in Parachinar.

Due to the lack of facilities in Parachinar hospital, 20 injured were brought to Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in Peshawar via an army helicopter and seven critically injured were shifted to the CMH Tall, in Hango district.

The deceased were identified as Israr Hussain, Mazhar Ali, Syed Qosain, Zahir Hussain, Sajid Hussain, Shafat Hussain, Maskar Ali, Riasat Ali, Zain Haider, Tajamul Hussain, Shujaat, Baqar Hussain, Syed Qadir Shah, Arif Hussain, Ajmal Hussain, Amjad Ali and Syed Qaiser.

The collective funeral of those killed was offered in the central Imambargah of Parachinar and attended by FC IG, the political agent and other high ranking officers of the agency.

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra strongly condemned the bombing and expressed his deep sorrow over the loss of precious lives. He directed the political administration to expeditiously complete relief activities and ensure best treatment facilities to the injured.

Under the directives of the governor, a medical team had left for Parachinar. The KP governor during a visit to the CMH Peshawar also announced compensation of Rs300,000 each for the heirs of the deceased, Rs150,000 each for the critically injured and Rs100,000 each for those with minor injuries.

“We will continue our struggle till the elimination of the last terrorist from Fata,” Jhagra said. The terrorists, he said, could never deter “our resolve as we are determined to follow them everywhere”.

Meanwhile, Majlis Wahdat-ul-Muslimeen also strongly condemned the blast and announced three-day mourning.

Taliban militants have been active around Parachinar in the past, and the town has also suffered sectarian tension between Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims.

Mohammad Khurassani, a spokesman for TTP Mehsud faction, said the attack was to avenge Tuesday’s killing of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi (LeJ) chief Asif Chotoo by police in the eastern province of Punjab.

“Saifullah alias Bilal carried out the attack in Parachinar on Saturday,” spokesperson said. He further said the blast was also to avenge the killing of our associates by security forces and to teach a lesson to Shias for their support for Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Ali bin Sufyan, spokesman for LeJ’s Al Alami faction, told Reuters his group had coordinated the attack with the Pakistani Taliban.

The LeJ Al Alami militants in the past have claimed to have coordinated attacks with Middle East-based Islamic State’s branch in Pakistan, including the November bombing of a Muslim shrine that killed 52 people, but the group also has strong links with the Taliban.