A bomb exploded at a market on Saturday in a mainly Shiite area of Pakistan’s northwestern tribal belt, killing at least 20 people and wounding 40 others, officials said.
The bomb detonated in a crowded vegetable market in Parachinar city, the capital of Kurram tribal district on the Afghan border.
“20 people have been martyred [killed],” the Pakistan military said in a short statement, adding that the injured had been taken to military and civil hospitals in the region’s main city of Peshawar.
“Troops from army and (paramilitary) Frontier Corps are under taking relief and rescue operations,” it said.
Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, governor for Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province confirmed the death toll in a televised interview with Pakistan’s private news channel TV Geo.
Jhagra said at least 40 people were wounded in the blast, 12 critically.
Ikramullah Khan, a senior government official in Parachinar, told AFP that the blast was caused by an IED (improvised explosive device) hidden in a vegetable box.
In a telephone call to AFP, 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 Shiites if they back Assad.