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At least 40 killed in Pakistan after explosion during Islamist political rally

At least 40 people have been killed in Pakistan after an explosion at an Islamist political rally, according to reports.

The blast happened in the country’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on Sunday, Geo News reported, citing local officials.

More than 100 people have been injured by the bomb, which went off at a gathering of the conservative Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) party, known for its links to hardline political Islam. The party leader, Maulana Fazlur Rehman, was not at the rally.

In this photo provided by Rescue 1122 Head Quarters, an ambulance carries injured people after a bomb explosion in the Bajur district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan, Sunday, July 30, 2023. A powerful bomb ripped through a rally by supporters of a hard-line cleric and political leader in the country???s northwestern Bajur district that borders Afghanistan on Sunday, killing at least 10 people and wounding more, police said. (Rescue 1122 Head Quarters via AP)
An ambulance carries injured people after the bomb explosion (Photo: Rescue 1122 Head Quarters via AP)

The authorities have cordoned off that area while a rescue mission is underway.

It was initially reported that 10 people died in the blast but the death toll has increased during the day, and police have warned it is likely to rise further.

One of the victims is the local leader of the JUI-F party, Maulana Ziaullah.

Police have not yet confirmed the cause of the explosion and nobody has immediately claimed responsibility.

Images broadcast on local TV show ambulances taking injured people to hospitals in the region, with some badly injured patients waiting in the hallways of heaving clinics.

A health emergency has been declared at the district hospital.

The JUI-F party is part of Pakistan’s coalition government and its leader, Mr Rehman, also heads the Pakistan Democratic Movement which united opposition parties against the former prime minister, Imran Khan.

The group ousted Mr Khan last year with a vote of no confidence.

The area has become known for militant attacks, with Islamic militants operating in Bajur until recent years when Pakistan’s military took action to mitigate the threat.

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