Death toll from Pakistan bomb and gun attacks rises to 61

The death toll from twin blasts in the north-western town of Parachinar climbed to 45 overnight, bringing the overall death toll from three separate attacks in Pakistan on Friday to 61, with several others in a critical condition, officials said.

Shahid Khan, a government official in Parachinar, confirmed the toll on Saturday, saying residents who had been preparing to celebrate the end of Ramadan were now in mourning.

Lashkar-e-Jhangvi, a Sunni extremist group, claimed the twin bombings at a crowded market in the Shiite-dominated town, linking them to sectarian fighting in Syria.

Dr Sabir Hussain, an official at a government-run hospital in Parachinar, said they had received 261 victims of the twin blasts, with 62 listed in a critical condition.

Another 12 people were killed on Friday in a suicide car bombing near the office of the provincial police chief in the south-western city of Quetta, in an attack claimed by a breakaway Taliban faction and the Islamic State group.

On Friday evening, gunmen in the port city of Karachi attacked police officers at a roadside restaurant, killing four of them before fleeing, senior police officer Asif Ahmed said.

Military spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor linked the attacks to alleged militant sanctuaries in neighbouring Afghanistan and promised greater border security. The two countries often accuse each other of turning a blind eye to militants.

Security forces raided a militant hideout in the north-western city of Peshawar before dawn on Saturday, triggering a shoot-out in which three Pakistani Taliban were killed and two police officers were wounded, senior police official Sajjad Khan said. He said the militants were making bombs that were likely to have been used to target holiday festivities.

Mr Khan said the identity of the dead militants was not immediately known. But intelligence officials said one of the men has been identified as a wanted militant commander linked to the IS group.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attacks, which came just days before Eid-al-Fitr, the Muslim holiday that marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan.

Friday's car bombing in Quetta could be heard across the city, and shattered the windows of nearby buildings, said police spokesman Shahzada Farhat. TV footage showed several badly damaged cars and a road littered with broken glass.

Hours after the attack, Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a breakaway faction of the Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility. Later on Friday, IS said in a competing claim that it was behind the attack, adding that one of its followers targeted the police post in Quetta, detonating his suicide belt there. It also released a photograph of the alleged attacker, identified as Abu Othman al-Khorasani.

Quetta is the capital of Baluchistan province, which has long been the scene of a low-level insurgency by Baluch nationalists and separatists, who want a bigger share of the region's resources or outright independence. Islamic militants have also carried out several attacks in the province.

AP

More in this Section

Scottish leaders cast votes in UK general electionScottish leaders cast votes in UK general election

Boris Johnson did not vote for himself on polling day in the UKBoris Johnson did not vote for himself on polling day in the UK

Climate activists unfurl huge banner on EU headquarters ahead of summitClimate activists unfurl huge banner on EU headquarters ahead of summit

Harvey Weinstein settlement deal with accusers prompts mixed reactionsHarvey Weinstein settlement deal with accusers prompts mixed reactions


Lifestyle

Bag a bargain and beat the stress of flying at night with these top tips, says Claire Spreadbury.5 ways to make your late-night flight more bearable

Don’t just bung this festive favourite in a boring pot and wait for it to wilt, says Hannah Stephenson.How to style your Christmas poinsettia

I developed a cold two weeks ago with painful, throbbing ear pain.Natural Health: How to deal with throbbing ear pain and smelly feet

More From The Irish Examiner