At least 35 people were killed while over 200 were wounded in a blast at a Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) convention in the Khar tehsil of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s (KP) Bajaur district on Sunday in Pakistan.
KP caretaker Information Minister Firoz Shah Jamal confirmed the death toll and number of injuries in an interview with Geo News. On the other hand, AFP put the death toll at 35.
Jamal said hospitals across Bajaur and neighbouring areas had been put on high alert. “We are trying to move critical patients to Peshawar and other hospitals through helicopters.”
“Our utmost priority right now is to provide medical treatment to the injured. The blast site has been cordoned off. Pakistan Army and other institutions are assisting us in the operation,” Jamal added.
Meanwhile, Bajaur District Emergency Officer Saad Khan told Dawn.com that Maulana Ziaullah Jan, JUI-F amir in Khar tehsil, also passed away in the blast.
Separately, Bajaur District Health Officer Faisal Kamal said more than 150 injured people had been brought to the Bajaur District Headquarters Hospital while those in critical condition were being moved to the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) in Peshawar.
Dawn.com’s correspondent, who was present at the blast site, said a local journalist was among those injured.
Later, KP Governor Haji Ghulam Ali said in a statement that a helicopter had been sent to Bajaur for the transfer of injured people.
He also directed authorities to issue a high alert at the LRH in Peshawar and ensure the best medical treatment of injured persons.
Footage of the site showed panic-stricken people gathering following the blast as ambulances arrived to move the injured to hospitals. Afterwards, a large police contingent cordoned off the area.
Rahim Shah, a witness, told Dawn.com that more than 500 people were attending the convention when the blast occurred. “We were listening to a bayan when a powerful explosion knocked me unconscious,” he said.
Shah narrated that when he regained consciousness, there was blood everywhere. “People were screaming and even shots were fired,” he added.
In a statement issued later in the evening, KP caretaker Chief Minister Azam Khan sought a detailed report on the blast from police and directed authorities to provide the best medical treatment to injured.