PESHAWAR/ORAKZI   -  At least 35 people lost their lives and 40 others sustained injuries when a suicide bomber drove a motorcycle in Kalaya Bazaar of Orakzai tribal district on Friday.

Local and official sources said the blast occurred in open-air Juma Bazaar when a large number of people were present at the site. The explosive material weighing about 8kg was fitted to the motorbike which exploded near a seminary.

The attacker in the northern Orakzai district drove the bike into the heart of a weekly market in the town of Kalaya and detonated his explosives, according to Reuters. “It was a suicide blast at the Juma Bazaar that takes place every Friday,” Abbas Khan, the assistant commissioner of the district, told Reuters.

Video images from the scene showed volunteers and rescue officials recovering bodies from the market, where people had been buying vegetables, household items and warm clothes when the blast took place.

“There was a big bang that rocked the whole town. Nothing was clear in the smoke, and there were cries and screams from the market,” said Ashraf Ullah, 42, a local merchant. “Many bodies were unrecognisable from damage by the blast. There were dead bodies all around.”

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast.

The intensity of the blast was so high that it was heard all across the district. A total of 10 vehicles and nine shops were badly damaged as a result of the blast.

Personnel of Orakzi Levies and Orakzai Scouts rushed to the site of the blast and shifted the bodies and the injured to a local hospital. Many of the critically injured persons were shifted to hospitals in Kohat and Kurram where emergency was declared. Some of the injured were also shifted to Peshawar.

The sources said that the condition of some of the injured was critical and the death toll might increase.

The site of the blast is located in front of a seminary and mosque where a large number of people come to offer Juma prayers. The area is mainly inhabited by the people belonging to Shia sect. Majlis Wahdatul Muslimeen while condemning the terrorist act has given a call of protest against it in Peshawar in the evening.

On last Thursday, two people lost their lives and 10 others sustained injuries in a bomb blast in Angoor Adda Bazaar in South Waziristan tribal district. The blast occurred inside a shop in Angoor Adda town situated near the Pak-Afghan border.

Orakzi tribal district Deputy Commissioner Khalid Iqbal said that it is premature to call it a suicide bombing however it is clear that the explosives material was fitted to a motorbike.

Among the injured persons, three were children and three were members of minority community who brought their items to Kalaya Bazaar for sale.

After the Friday prayers a large number of residents took to the streets and demanded of the government to form a joint investigation team and identify the elements involved in the heinous crime.

Vice Chairman Muttahida Qabail Party Malk Habib Noor while addressing the protesters said that terrorists targeted innocent people and the authorities must pinpoint those who are behind this massacre of innocent people.

 

 

35 killed in Orakzai market suicide hit

 

NADER BUNERI / HASAN MAHMOOD