Death toll from suicide bombing in northwestern Pakistan rises to 54

The death toll from the deadly suicide bombing in the northwestern Pakistan region has risen to 54 on Monday, Al Jazeera reports.

Initial reports indicated that at least 44 people were killed and nearly 200 wounded on Sunday when a suicide bomber ripped through a political rally of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) party in Pakistan’s Bajaur district, which borders Afghanistan.

According to the district administration officials, the explosion occurred at 4 pm near the Shandi area when several senior party leaders and hundreds of party workers had gathered when the explosion occurred.

Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif “strongly condemned” the blast in a tweet.

Taliban also condemned the suicide bombing, calling it an act of crime that is “unjustified” despite the fact that the group itself carried out hundreds of suicide attacks across Afghanistan during its insurgency.

Former President Hamid Karzai denounced the bombing as an “inhumane” and “un-Islamic” act.

No group has claimed responsibility. But the initial police investigation, according to Al Jazeera, indicates that the Islamic State—Khorasan Province (ISKP), which largely operates in Afghanistan, could be behind the attack.

Terrorist attacks have surged across Pakistan in recent years targeting Pakistani security forces and civilians. Pakistan has blamed the Taliban for the escalating terror-related insecurity in Pakistan, mainly for harboring the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

A recent UN Security Council Monitoring report stated that TTP has been significantly emboldened since the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan nearly two years ago. The report reveals that factions of the TTP are seeking to merge with Al-Qaeda to expand its influence, warning the former could become a regional threat if it continues to enjoy a safe haven in Afghanistan.