Deaths from ISIS bombing at pro-Taliban rally in Pakistan rise to 63

Almost 200 people were injured in Sunday's attack

Mourners attend the funeral of some of those killed in Sunday's attack in Bajur, Pakistan. AP
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The death toll from the weekend suicide bombing at a rally of a pro-Taliban party in Pakistan has risen to 63, doctors said on Wednesday.

It was one of the country's worst attacks in recent years.

A bomber struck on Sunday at an election campaign rally of supporters of pro-Taliban cleric Fazlur Rehman in Bajur, where the Pakistani military spent years fighting the Pakistani Taliban before declaring the district clear of militants in 2016.

But Mr Rehman’s Jamiat Ulema Islam party has remained a potent political force closely linked to the Afghan Taliban.

At least 123 of about 200 wounded in Sunday's attack near the Afghanistan border are being treated in hospital, officials said. Eighty have been discharged.

“I can confirm that so far 63 people have died in the suicide bombing,” Liaquat Ali, a spokesman for the state-run hospital in Bajur, said on Wednesday.

He said some of the wounded were in hospitals in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

The latest casualty figures were announced a day after Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif asked neighbouring Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers to do more to prevent militants from crossing the border to stage attacks.

Mr Rehman's rally was targeted on Sunday by an Afghan-based branch of ISIS, which has claimed responsibility for the Bajur attack. ISIS are Taliban rivals and have stepped up attacks since the latter seized power in Afghanistan in August 2021.

Mr Sharif, after visiting some of injured at a hospital in Peshawar, said the militants found sanctuary inside Afghanistan, regrouped and rearmed there, and subsequently infiltrated Pakistan to carry out anti-government attacks.

The Afghan Taliban government “should undertake concrete measures toward denying their soil be used for transnational terrorism”, he said. Mr Rehman's party is part of Mr Sharif’s coalition government.

Mr Rehman on Wednesday demanded the arrest of all those who were behind the bombing.

The Pakistani Taliban, known as Tahrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, is a separate group but allied with the Afghan Taliban.

TTP has carried out several deadly attacks in Pakistan since last year when it ended a ceasefire with the government. The group denounced the Bajur bombing.

A Taliban attack on an army-run school in Peshawar in 2014 killed 147 people, mostly schoolchildren. In January, while 74 were killed in a bombing at a nearby mosque.

In February, more than 100 people, mostly police, died in a mosque bombing inside Peshawar police headquarters.

Updated: August 03, 2023, 7:53 AM