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Death toll rises to 24 in Pakistan market bombing

The bombing was the first major militant attack in the country in 2017 [AFP]

Date of publication: 22 January, 2017

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The death toll from a market bombing in Pakistan has risen to 24, with the Pakistani Taliban claiming it was a lesson to Shia Muslims for supporting Syria's Bashar al-Assad

The death toll from a bomb blast at a market in a mainly Shia area of Pakistan's northwestern tribal belt has risen to 24, officials said on Sunday.

The explosion, which occurred on Saturday in Parachinar, capital of the Kurram tribal district, initially killed 20 people and was claimed by the Pakistani Taliban who 

It was the first major militant attack in the country in 2017.

"The number of dead people from the blast is now 24 as four more injured have lost their lives," Naseerullah Khan, an administration official in the region, told AFP, adding the number of wounded stood at 90.

"Some 33 injured are being treated in the district hospital in Kurram while 25 have been shifted to a military hospital in Peshawar. Others with minor injuries have been discharged after first aid," Khan said.

The new toll was confirmed by police officials.

Video footage from Saturday showed chaotic scenes with people running and shouting in panic and victims strewn in front of vegetable stalls among smashed crates and pushcarts.

Ikramullah Khan, a senior government official in Parachinar, said that the blast was caused by an IED (improvised explosive device) hidden in a vegetable box.

The Hakimullah Mehsud faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claimed responsibility for the attack.

"It was to avenge the killing of our associates by security forces and to teach a lesson to Shiites for their support for Bashar al-Assad," said the group's spokesman, Qari Saifullah, referring to the Syrian president.

Saifullah warned that his Sunni Muslim group will continue attacking Shias if they back Assad, whose regime is entrenched in a civil war that began in 2011 and has claimed more than 310,000 lives.

In December 2015 an IED blast at the same market killed at least 23 people and wounded more than 30.

Kurram is one of Pakistan's seven semi-autonomous tribal districts which are governed according to local laws and customs.

The district is known for sectarian clashes between Sunnis and Shias, who make up roughly 20 percent of Pakistan's population of 200 million.

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