22 killed, dozens wounded as blast rocks Pakistan's northwest tribal region
Earlier this year, at least 21 people were killed when an explosion hit a vegetable market in Parachinar, near the border with Afghanistan. Photograph: (Reuters)
An explosion apparently targeting a mosque in the Pakistani city of Parachinar, in the remote northwestern tribal region bordering Afghanistan, killed at least 22 people and wounded dozens, officials said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility but the blast, which occurred as people gathered for Friday prayers near the women's entrance of a Shia mosque in the central bazaar, follows a series of attacks this year.
A parliamentarian from Parachinar, Sajid Hussain, said it was a suicide attack and was preceded by gunfire. "The attack took place in a busy area and a women's mosque appears to be the target," he said.
Last month, more than 70 people were killed and dozens wounded in an attack on a crowded Sufi shrine in southern Pakistan. In January, at least 21 people were killed when an explosion hit a vegetable market in Parachinar itself.
Authorities in mainly Sunni-Muslim Pakistan said rescue helicopters had been sent to the scene.
The blast occurred as people gathered for Friday prayers near the women's entrance of a Shia mosque (WION)
Mumtaz Hussain, a doctor at the local Agency Headquarters Hospital, said five bodies, including a woman and two children, and more than three dozen wounded had been brought to the hospital and an appeal had been issued for blood donors.
"Patients are being brought to us in private cars and ambulances and we have received over three dozen patients so far," Hussain told Reuters.
The attacks have shattered hopes that Pakistan may have come through the militant violence that had scarred its recent history and increased pressure on Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government to show it was improving security.
Parachinar is the capital of the Kurram tribal region, where Pakistani security forces have battled militant groups for years.