At least 22 martyred, 70 wounded in market blast in Pakistan Shiite area

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SHAFAQNA – At least 22 people were martyred and 70 wounded Friday when a car bomb tore through a market in a mainly Shiite area of Pakistan’s tribal belt, officials said, in an attack claimed by the Taliban.

The military said it was sending a helicopter to evacuate the wounded from Parachinar, capital of Kurram tribal district, as television footage showed shocked bystanders crowding the market square and ambulances edging by.The attack comes after a wave of militant violence killed 130 people across Pakistan in February.“Eleven people have been killed so far and more than 50 injured,” Shahid Ali Khan, a local administration official, told AFP.

“It was a car bomb, the car was parked in the market but it is not clear yet whether it was a suicide blast,” he said.

Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), a faction of the umbrella Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or Pakistani Taliban, swiftly claimed the attack in a message sent to AFP.

The group was also part of the wave of terror attacks which shook the country in February, claiming responsibility for a suicide bomb in Lahore which killed 14 people.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned Friday’s blast, saying it was a “duty” to seek the “complete annihilation” of terrorism in Pakistan, and ordering assistance for local authorities.

Shiite leaders blamed the “failure of security installations”, according to Allama Raja Nasir Abbas, chief of a Shiite political organization.

“Terrorists crossing dozens of check posts and carrying out attacks puts a question mark over the progress of security institutions,” he said.

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