THE DEATH TOLL from twin suicide attacks at a busy marketplace in northwest Pakistan has risen to 57, officials said on Saturday.
The Friday attacks at the bazaar in Parachinar, the main town of Kurram tribal district on the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, were the deadliest to hit the country during the Islamic holy month of Ramadan.
“The death toll from the suicide attacks has now risen to 57,” a senior administration official in Kurram, Riaz Mehsud, told AFP.
Earlier, he had put the death toll at 51.
“At least 206 people sustained injuries in the attacks and the condition of 14 injured is critical,” Mehsud said.
Bombers walked into crowed market
Another senior local administration official, Muhammad Asghar Khan, also confirmed the new death toll.
The explosions had sent handcarts flying as shoppers bought food to open their fasts at sunset.
Parachinar administration officials said both blasts were carried out by suicide bombers, who walked into the crowded market.
“We found many body parts, including parts of the suicide bombers. There was blood and human flesh at the blasts site,” Mehsud said on Friday.
The area where the bombers struck is mainly inhabited by minority Shiite Muslims but officials said they could not immediately identify the victims.
Sunni Muslim extremists suspected
There was no immediate claim of responsibility but attacks waged by Sunni Muslim extremists against Pakistan’s Shiites, who account for 20 percent of the 180 million population, are on the rise.
Kurram is frequently the scene of sectarian violence between Pakistan’s Sunni Muslim majority and Shiite minority.
The country is battling a Taliban-led domestic insurgency that has killed thousands of civilians and security personnel since 2007.
Pakistani troops have been fighting for years against homegrown insurgents in the tribal belt, which Washington considers the main hub of Taliban and Al-Qaeda militants plotting attacks on the West and in Afghanistan.