20 die in Pakistan market blast

Islamabad, Jan 21: At least 20 persons were killed and more than 50 injured in a blast at the vegetable market in Kurram Agency of Pakistan on Saturday, an official said.

A remote-controlled bomb exploded when the Eidgah market in Parachinar area was crowded in the morning, Dawn online quoted Ikramullah Khan, a senior government official, as saying.

The death toll is expected to rise as several of the injured are in critical condition, a hospital official said.

An eyewitness saw bodies strewn around the market and wounded persons crying for help.

"There was no ambulance, and people had to carry the injured in private vehicles to the hospital," he said.

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) militant group claimed responsibility for the blast in an e-mailed statement to the media, Xinhua news agency reported.

The TTP group said the attack was revenge of the killing of Asif Chuto, chief of Lashkar-e-Jhangvi militant organisation, who was killed along with three others in an encounter with police in Punjab province earlier this week.

Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attack.

Kurram is one of the most sensitive tribal areas as it borders three Afghan provinces.

At one point it was one of the key routes for militant movement across the border.

A similar blast at the Eidgah Market in December 2015 killed 25 persons and injured 70 others.