Nearly 22 people were killed and 70 others wounded when a car bomb exploded in the town of Dera Ghazi Khan in Pakistan’s Punjab province, said local officials.
According to reports, the explosion took place in a market near the house of Zulfiqar Khosa, who is an advisor to the chief minister of Pakistan’s Punjab province.
“There are many people trapped in the rubble after the powerful blast demolished some 10 shops … The rescue work is under way and we fear the toll may go up,” Hassan Iqbal, the town commissioner, said.
“It was a terrorist activity, similar to those being carried out in other parts of the country.”
No outfit has taken responsibility for the blast.
Reports said that it was yet to found whether the explosion targeted Khosa. No one in Khosa’s house is reported to be dead.
“Zulfikar Khosa is a close confidante of Nawaz Sharif, the former prime minister of Pakistan and the PML-N leader. It is the Islamic holy of Muharram right now, and Dera Ghazi Khan has seen violence take place (during that time),” he said.
“Muharram is a very holy month for the Shia community here in Pakistan. Ever since Muharram started, Shia community leaders have been saying that (they) need to have more security around holy sites.
“Shia leaders had said that Dera Ghazi Khan was one of the targeted areas and should be more secure.”
Since October, over 500 people have been killed in bomb blasts in Pakistan. Pro-Taliban fighters have been held responsible for the violence, for an army offensive has been launched against them in northwest.
The US government has called on Islamabad to step up its efforts against Taliban- and al-Qaeda-linked fighters who cross over into Afghanistan.
However, Pakistan has said that it has to focus on a rising domestic insurgency which has killed more than 2,680 people in the last two-and-a-half years.