Bombing near Shia mosque kills 22 in northwest Pakistan
A powerful bomb blast near a mosque in Pakistan has left at least 22 people dead and dozens of others wounded in a Shia-populated area of the country’s northwestern tribal belt.
Local sources said that the explosion took place as Muslims gathered for Friday noon prayers at the mosque in the busy Noor market of Parachinar, the capital city of Kurram Agency in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas in Pakistan, which borders Afghanistan.
About a dozen of the injured people were said to be in critical condition.
“The death toll may rise and we are still receiving injured people,” said doctor Moeen Begum, a surgeon at the government-run hospital in Parachinar.
Sajid Hussain, a Parachinar lawmaker, said the explosion had more than 70 casualties. He said gunshots had been fired before the blast.
Parachinar has been racked by violence in the past. An explosion in Parachinar in January left 25 people dead and dozens more injured.
The tribal area is considered to be one of the most dangerous regions in Pakistan.
Kurram Agency borders three Afghan provinces and was once a Taliban stronghold and the main route for cross-border militant activity.
In a separate development, Pakistani state-run media announced that President Mamnoon Hussain had signed a bill reinstating a permit to military courts to try terrorism suspects.
The development came days after Pakistan’s Senate and National Assembly separately passed a constitutional amendment to extend the practice, which has been in place for two years.
A previous 2015 amendment established the military courts for a two-year mandate, which expired in January.
The move to send terror suspects to military courts came after the December 2014 Taliban attack on an army-run school in the northwestern city of Peshawar that killed 154 people, mostly schoolchildren.
Pakistan also lifted a moratorium on the use of capital punishment at the time.