A terrorist group based in Afghanistan claimed responsibility Monday for a suicide bombing at a political rally in Pakistan that killed at least 54 people, according to several reports.
The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham in Khorasan Province, or ISIS-K, claimed responsibility for the Sunday attack in Bajaur, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, northwestern Pakistan, according to a statement shared by the ISIS-linked Amaq News Agency.
The suicide bomber reportedly detonated an explosive vest, The Associated Press (AP) reported, citing the statement. The motive for the bombing was reportedly given as an ongoing war against democratic regimes the group deems un-Islamic. At least five children were among the dead, with nearly 200 people injured, AP noted. (RELATED: Report: At Least 40 Dead, 100 Injured In Explosion At Political Rally In Allied Nation)
The Islamic State Khorasan branch (ISIS-K) has claimed responsibility for suicide bombing in Khar, Bajaur; claiming attack resulted in death of 60 people & left dozens injured within ranks of a political party in govt coalition of Pakistan, which they referred to as “apostate”. pic.twitter.com/75oKR9hpke
— Saleem Mehsud (@SaleemMehsud) July 31, 2023
At least 1,000 people were present at the political rally, many chanting “God is great” to herald the arrival of the leaders of the Islamist Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) party, when the bomb went off, the AP reported. The attack, one of the worst in the volatile border region in the last decade, reportedly took place hours before the arrival of Chinese Vice Premier He Lifeng, who visited the country to mark ten years of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. The JUI-F party is reportedly linked to the Taliban, a group ISIS-K opposes.
The attack took place close to the stage, where several JUI-F party leaders were sitting as one of them addressed the crowd and as another leader, Abdul Rasheed, was in the process of arriving, according to footage of the attack published by the Hindustan Times. One of the party leaders, Maulana Ziaullah Jan, was reportedly killed.
The JUI-F party, as well as the U.S. and Russian embassies in Islamabad, condemned the attack, AP noted.