Twin bomb attacks on Friday killed at least 13 people outside mosques in northwest Pakistan, where the party of cricket star Imran Khan is forming a coalition government, officials said.
The blasts targeted the two mosques in the Baazdara area of northwestern Malakand region, senior local administration official Amjad Ali Khan told AFP.
“The two blasts killed at least 13 people and wounded 48 others,” Khan said. “Eight of the injured people are in a critical condition,” he added.
The bombs were detonated by remote control but information was slow to filter through from the far-flung, mountainous area where there is no mobile phone coverage.
Administration official Imran Khan also confirmed the death toll had risen to 13.
“One blast took place inside a mosque and the second one occurred at the main gate of the second mosque,” he told AFP.
Officials had earlier put the death toll at eight.
Survivors told AFP that the bombs exploded as people were leaving the mosques at the end of the weekly Friday sermon.
Iqtidar Khan, 28, said he sustained head injuries.
“I came out of mosque after saying prayers when something pulled me with full force,” he told AFP by telephone from hospital after the attack.
“A piece of brick hit my head after a big bang. I could see nothing but smoke and blood on the stairs of the mosque,” he added.
He said the front gate and the roof on the veranda of the mosque were destroyed by the blasts.
Caretaker Prime Minister Mir Hazar Khan “strongly condemned” the bombings and ordered authorities to be “vigilant” to avert such incidents in future, a government statement said.
Northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province is on the frontline of a nearly seven-year Taliban insurgency and abuts the semi-autonomous tribal belt where Pakistani troops are fighting against homegrown militants.
The attack came just one day after Khan’s Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party said it was forming a coalition with the right-wing religious Jamaat-e-Islami (JI) and secular Qaumi Watan Party (QWP).
“Our province has badly suffered due to terrorism and we need unified efforts to bring peace,” Pervez Khattak, PTI’s nominee for provincial chief minister, told a news conference on Thursday.
PTI emerged as the largest party in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa by securing 35 out of the 99 directly elected seats in the provincial assembly. JI and QWP secured seven seats each.
Its electoral success appears rooted at least in part in Khan’s call for an end to military operations and peace talks with the Taliban.
Friday’s attack was the deadliest in Pakistan since last Saturday’s general election, won by former Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, giving him an historic third term as head of the Centre-right Pakistan Muslim League-N party.
The Taliban, who denounce democracy as un-Islamic, killed more than 150 people during the election campaign, including 24 on polling day last weekend.
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