November 23, 2018 / 7:18 AM / 23 days ago

Blast at market in northwest Pakistan kills at least 25

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (Reuters) - A suicide bomb attack on a crowded festival and market in northwest Pakistan’s northwest killed at least 25 people on Friday and wounded 20, a government official said.

The blast occurred at around the same time that three attackers tried to storm the Chinese consulate in the southern city of Karachi. Two policemen and the three attackers were killed.

The Karachi attack was claimed by a separatist insurgent group called the Balochistan Liberation Army, and did not appear to be connected to the attack on the market in the northwestern region of Orakzai.

In Orakzai, a suicide bomber drove a motorcycle into a crowd attending a festival and market that attracts people from different religious communities, before detonating his explosives.

No group claimed responsibility.

“It was a suicide blast at the festival that takes place every Friday,” said Abbas Khan, the assistant commissioner of the district, told Reuters.

Khan said that among the 25 dead were three members of the minority Sikh community and two security officials.

The Geo television channel showed footage of military officials cordoning off the bomb site.

Orakzai was formerly a semi-autonomous part of Pakistan’s ethnic Pashtun tribal area along the Afghan border.

Supporters of Majlis-e-Wahdat-e-Muslimeen (MWM) a religious group chant slogans to protest against the blast in Orakzai, during a protest in Peshawar, Pakistan November 23, 2018. REUTERS/Fayaz Aziz

The region was for decades a refuge for Islamist militants fighting in Afghanistan, and more recently against the Pakistani state.

The Pakistani military stepped up operations along the border in 2009 and has managed to clear some areas of militants.

The tribal areas were incorporated into the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in May.

Additional reporting by Saud Mehsud; Writing by Saad Sayeed; Editing by Neil Fullick

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