Blast in Northwest Pakistan Kills 15

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – A powerful bomb exploded near a place of worship in Pakistan’s northwest town of Parachinar on Friday, killing at least 15 people and wounding over 50 others, officials said.

Blast in Northwest Pakistan Kills 15

Mushtaq Ghani, a spokesman for the provincial government, said the attack took place near Parachinar's Shiite mosque, which is located near the Noor Market. TV footage showed people transporting the victims in ambulances and private vehicles.

The blast was so powerful it also damaged vehicles and nearby shops, according to government administrator Zahid Hussain. He said authorities have announced an emergency and rescuers are transporting the dead and wounded to nearby hospitals.

Parachinar is a key town in the Kurram tribal region bordering Afghanistan, and it has been racked by violence in the past. The region was also once a stronghold of Pakistani Taliban and militant groups. Although the army says it has cleared the Kurram region of militants, violence has continued there.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for Friday's attack, but Lashker-e-Jhangvi, a banned militant group has been blamed for previous such attacks in the region.

Sabir Hussain, a senior doctor at the local hospital, said the facility received 15 bodies and 55 wounded persons, and some of them were listed in critical condition.

Angered over the attack, some residents were seen chanting slogans against the government, the Associated Press reported.

In a statement, the Pakistan army confirmed the bombing, saying it dispatched a helicopter along with a team of medical doctors to provide help to the victims and evacuate wounded persons to hospitals in other cities for treatment.

Pakistan's Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan condemned the attack and asked authorities to provide the best possible treatment to the victims.

Friday's blast came hours after sate-run media said Pakistani President Mamnoon Hussain had signed a bill removing the last hurdle for the revival of 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 that 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 at the time also lifted its moratorium on the death penalty and it has executed over 400 people, but most of them were linked to routine murders.

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