The death toll from the powerful blast triggered by an Islamic State suicide bomber at a convention of a hardline Islamist party in Pakistan's restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province has risen sharply to 63, authorities said on Wednesday.
The attack took place on Sunday when more than 400 members of the conservative Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) party, known for its links to hardline political Islam, had gathered for a meeting under a large tent in the town of Khar, which borders Afghanistan.
The banned terrorist group Islamic State (ISIS) claimed responsibility for the suicide attack, which injured over 120 people in Khar, the capital of the Bajaur tribal district.
According to Dr Liaqat Ali of the District Headquarters Hospital, 43 bodies were brought to the hospital after the blast, and so far, a total of 63 people have died in the Bajaur blast, The Express Tribune newspaper reported.
Ali added that one severely injured person died at the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) Peshawar, while four died at Combined Military Hospital Peshawar and two at Timergara Hospital.
He said that 13 bodies were handed over to relatives, the report said.
A total of 123 people were injured in the suicide blast and are undergoing treatment in different hospitals in the province, the hospital administration said.
An FIR was registered by the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Counter-Terrorism Department against unknown suspects on charges of terrorism, murder, attempted murder and others in connection with the bombing.
The local branch of ISIS has previously targeted JUI-F party leaders as they consider them apostates.
The JUI-F party is part of the coalition government led by the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N). The major terror attack occurred as Pakistani political parties are beginning campaign preparations ahead of elections in the coming months.
The attack in Bajaur was one of the worst in northwestern Pakistan in the last decade.
In 2014, nearly 150 people, mostly schoolchildren, were killed in a Taliban attack on an army-run school in Peshawar.
On January 30 this year, a Pakistan Taliban suicide bomber blew himself up during the afternoon prayers in a mosque in Peshawar, killing 101 people and injuring more than 200
Pakistan has witnessed a surge in terrorist attacks following the Taliban's return to power in Afghanistan in August 2021.
Various world leaders, including UN chief Antonio Guterres, UN General Assembly President Csaba Koros, and US State Department Spokesperson Matthew Miller, condemned the attack.
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