Islamabad: At least 23 people were killed and over 70 others injured today when a powerful bomb ripped through a second-hand clothes market in a Shia-dominated area in northwest Pakistan's restive tribal region near the Afghan border, an attack claimed by a sectarian outfit.
The blast occurred in Parachinar in Kurram agency when the market was filled with a large number of people who were buying used and second-hand winter clothes.
Security forces reached the spot and cordoned off the area and evidence was being gathered from the crime scene.
The explosion was carried out in the bustling Sadar market of Parachinar cantonment in Khurram Valley, an official said.
Security sources said two suspects have been taken into custody from the blast site.
The injured were shifted to a nearby hospital, the official said.
"At least 23 have died and more than 70 were injured," said Amjad Ali Khan, the political administrator of Kurram.
Sectarian outfit Lashkar-e-Jhangvi al-Alami claimed responsibility for the attack. "We claim responsibility for the Eidgah Bazar, Parachinar bomb blast. It was a revenge of the crimes against Syrian Muslims by Iran and Bashar al Assad," the group's spokesperson Ali Abu Sufiyan was quoted as saying by Express Tribune.
Khurram is one of the most sensitive tribal areas as it borders three Afghanistan provinces and at one point was one of the key routes for militant movement across the border.
The agency is adjacent to North Waziristan where Operation Zarb-i-Azb is in progress against the Tehreek-i-Taliban and other insurgent groups.
Parachinar is the administrative headquarters of the agency near the Afghan border.
It is small garrison town developed by the British army in the foothills of Spin Ghar (White Mountain) in mid-1895.