Pakistani suicide bomber kills more than 50 in political gathering 

No fewer than 54 people have died after a suicide bomber attacked a political convention organised by an Islamist party in northwestern Pakistan.

Pakistani Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Shaukat Abbas said 12 of those who died were under the age of 12, CNN disclosed.

More than 100 were injured, 17 critically, in the attack targeting members of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-Fazl, JUI-F, party, who had gathered in the town of Khar, Bajaur district, close to the border with Afghanistan.

Local police disclosed that the attacker detonated explosives near the convention’s stage and there has been no initial claim of responsibility for the attack. But the local branch of ISIS has previously targeted JUI-F party leaders as they consider them apostates.

CNN reported that Pakistani Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharifa in statement released by his office “strongly condemned” the blast.

An investigation is underway, and the prime minister’s office has requested a report from Interior Minister, Rana Sanaullah and the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, the statement added.

The leader of the JUI-F party, Maulana Fazlur Rehman in a statement released by his press office, expressed “deep sorrow and regret” following the blast.

“‎Peace be upon JUI workers. The federal and provincial government should provide the best treatment to the injured”, the statement added.

One witness said more than 500 people were attending the convention when the blast occurred.

“A powerful explosion knocked me unconscious”, Rahim Shah told Pakistani news outlet Dawn.

When he came around there were “people screaming and even shots were fired”, he said, adding there was blood everywhere.

Pakistani political parties are beginning campaign preparations ahead of elections due later this year.

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