The death toll from a suicide bombing in Pakistan has risen to 56, a government official said. The Islamic militant group ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack on members of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) party.
A bomber detonated a vest packed with explosives near the stage on Sunday on the outskirts of Khar in Pakistan’s northwestern Bajaur district, which borders Afghanistan. The rally was organised by a key member of Pakistan prime minister Shehbaz Sharif’s coalition, Fazlur Rehman.
The toll from the attack could rise, Anwar-ul-Haq, the region's deputy commissioner told Reuters. The JUI-F is known for its close ties to the Taliban in Afghanistan.
The attack comes as Shehbaz Sharif's government readies to step aside on August 13 and elections are expected to be held in the coming months. “A suicide attacker from the Islamic State [ISIL] … detonated his explosive jacket in the middle of a crowd,” the group said via its Amaq agency.
Reportedly, three suspects in connection to the bombing have been detained, District police officer Nazir Khan said. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned the attack. "The Pakistani nation, law enforcement agencies and our protectors will never allow such cowardly tactics of the enemy to succeed," he tweeted. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) condemned the attack too.
Authorities had indicated that the jihadist group IS in Khorasan province (ISKP) was behind the bombing.