Explosion at Islamist political rally leaves at least 44 people dead in Pakistan

A Pakistani explosion has killed at least 44 people and injured over 100 in a rally organized by the Islamist party Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl (JUI-F). The explosion occurred near the JUI-F workers' convention in the north-west Bajaur district, near the border with Afghanistan. Police have found evidence suggesting the explosion was a possible suicide attack. 

A rescue operation has been completed, and all injured have been taken to the hospital. Officials warn that the death toll may rise further, with 15 people in critical condition. The motive behind the attack is not yet clear, and security forces have cordoned off the area. The JUI-F is a major religious political party and forms part of the government coalition in Pakistan's parliament. Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned those responsible as terrorists who have "targeted those who speak for Islam, the Quran and Pakistan" and said they would face "real punishment." The political gathering was an opportunity for the JUI-F to rally its support ahead of an election expected to take place later this year. The local branch of Islamic State group (IS) in Pakistan claimed to be behind several attacks this year in Bajaur and has previously claimed targeting JUI-F.


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