17 injured in bomb blast at open-air market in northwest Pakistan

An IED had been fitted inside a vegetable cart, search operation underway

Pakistan-blast-vegetable-cart-twitter Image from the site of the explosion in Parachinar | Shared on Twitter by activist Muzammil Panezai

A bomb planted on a vegetable cart went off at a busy open-air market in a tribal district in northwestern Pakistan on Thursday, injuring at least 17 people including a child.

The bomb blast occurred in Turi Bazar in the city of Parachinar when the explosives went off as people were busy buying groceries and vegetables.

Parachinar District Superintendent of Police Najab Ali said the cause of the explosion was an improvised explosive device (IED) that was fitted inside a vegetable cart. 

The injured were rushed to the District Headquarters Hospital.

District Headquarter Hospital (DHQ) Deputy Medical Superintendent Dr Qaiser Abbas Bangash said that at least 17 injured, including a child, were brought to the facility, Dawn newspaper reported.

One injured person was in critical condition and being shifted to the Combined Military Hospital, Peshawar, the paper quoted Bangash as saying. 

Earlier, authorities had said that 20 people were injured in the incident.

Parachinar is the capital city of Kurram district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Soon after the blast, security forces and rescue teams reached the spot.

Security forces have cordoned off the area and launched a search operation.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but the region is known for sectarian clashes between Sunnis and Shias.

The residents blocked the main highway and staged a protest against the bombing in front of Parachinar Press Club.

Leader of the Opposition Shehbaz Sharif strongly condemned the blast, saying "terrorists seek to target citizens and leave Pakistan in the grip of terror."

Kurram district is considered one of the most sensitive tribal areas of Pakistan as it borders three Afghanistan provinces. It has witnessed scores of attacks and kidnapping for ransom incidents during the last decade.

In 2017, nearly 132 people were killed and 460 others wounded in five militant attacks in Parachinar.

In previous years, militants had carried out 11 bomb attacks that killed over 500 people.