At least 33 people were killed and 56 were injured when a powerful bomb rocked a Friday market in Kalaya, in the lower subdivision of Orakzai tribal district, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
Deputy Commissioner Khalid Iqbal told SAMAA Digital that the initial investigation in the incident showed that the bomb might have been planted in a vehicle that was used for transporting vegetables. “This is a Friday bazaar, where hundreds of people had gathered for groceries,” explained Iqbal. “The ground is then used for Friday prayers as well,” he added.
According to the DC, the explosion took place at around 10:30am at the peak hour. Iqbal confirmed 30 casualties, which include three members of the minority Sikh community which had been previously displaced by the Taliban that controlled the area prior to the military operation in 2010. Three children were also killed. Locals said the deaths were more than 30 and 40 people were injured.
Strongly condemn the terrorist attacks against Chinese Consulate in Karachi & in Orakzai tribal area. My prayers go to the victims & their families. Salute the brave security/police personnel who gave their lives & denied success to terrorists in the mission ag Chinese Consulate.
— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) November 23, 2018
“I was buying vegetables at a distance from bomb site,” Karam Khan, who accompanied an injured person to the hospital in Kohat [the closest district with better health facilities], told SAMAA Digital. “There was a huge explosion and I woke up with blood splashed all over the place and there were body parts everywhere,” he said.
Those with minor injuries were treated at the Kalaya Tehsil Hospital. “According to our figures, a few people succumbed to their injuries on the way to hospital and one person died at Kohat hospital,” the DC said. “There were five other people who were critically injured and are on their way to the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar because they could not be treated here,” he explained.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan condemned the bomb attack and said that all possible facilities should be provided to the injured. The inspector general of police, through an official communique, told all the district police chiefs to put security on high alert because there were two consecutive attacks in Karachi and Orakzai, fearing more such attacks.
Fridays were considered ‘bloody days’ at the height of militancy across Pakistan. Terrorists usually chose Fridays to carry out coordinated attacks across the country in the years from 2008 till 2014.
However, the Orakzai agency had remained relatively peaceful despite the fact that it was considered the home of the most feared militants of the Tehreek-e-Taliban because it serves as a natural cross over from Khyber Agency to Kurram Agency and ultimately North Waziristan. However, several militant groups have joined the Da’esh and fled to Afghanistan.
Orakzai is the only district of the erstwhile FATA that does not share a boundary with Afghanistan. Friday’s terror attacks brought haunting memories of the past back to the area whose people after spending half a decade in displacement have returned to their new lives.
**This story updated the death toll from 30 to 33 after confirmation from District Health Officer Orakzai, Dr Nawab Ali.