Association for Defending Victims of Terrorism – The death toll from an Islamic State group’s suicide bombing at a campaign rally over the weekend of a pro-Taliban Pakistani cleric’s party rose to 63 on Wednesday, after eight people died in hospital.
massive attack — one of the country’s worst attacks in recent years — left nearly 200 wounded, several critically. The bomber struck an election campaign rally of supporters of pro-Taliban cleric Fazlur Rehman in the northwestern district of Bajur, near the border with Afghanistan and a region where the Pakistani military spent years fighting the Pakistani Taliban before declaring the district clear of militants in 2016.
Rehman’s Jamiat Ulema Islam party — which is part of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s coalition government — has remained a potent political force in the region, closely linked to the Afghan Taliban.
Medical officials said 123 people remain in hospital while those with lighter wounds were treated and discharged. Liaquat Ali, a spokesman for the state-run hospital in Bajur, confirmed the latest deaths on Wednesday. He said some of the wounded were still in serious condition.
The attack has drawn international condemnation and Sharif has urged Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers to do more to prevent militants from finding sanctuary there and crossing into Pakistan to stage.
An Afghan-based branch of the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for the bombing. IS militants are Taliban rivals and have stepped up attacks since the Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in August 2021.
Sharif, after visiting some of the wounded people at a hospital in Peshawar on Tuesday, said IS militants find sanctuaries inside Afghanistan, regroup and rearm there, and subsequently infiltrat Pakistan to carry out anti-government attacks. He demanded the Afghan Taliban “undertake concrete measures toward denying their soil be used for transnational terrorism.”