'A bombing killed at least 20 people on Saturday during an auction at a vegetable market in a mostly Shiite town in northwestern Pakistan, ending a long lull in militant violence there, officials said.
“I was in my shop when a deafening blast shook the market,” a Parachinar resident, Hussain Ali Tori, said by telephone. “I have seen dozens of shattered bodies lying on the ground. Some were dead, and many were crying for help.”
A Taliban spokesman, Muhammad Khurasani, said a suicide bomber had carried out the attack, but a Kurram official, Nasrullah Khan, said the bomb appeared to have been planted in a crate. “The place is always crowded,” said Mr. Khan, a deputy administrator.
Parachinar has been a center of resistance to the Taliban, specifically the Haqqani network, which is one of the movement’s most violent factions, and it has been the site of numerous bombings in the past. But there had been none since December 2015, when another market bombing killed 23 people.On Saturday, local television news channels broadcast images of people crying for help as others moved through scattered crates of tomatoes to help the wounded.
A senior health official in Kurram, Dr. Sabir Hussain, said that many of the wounded were in critical condition and that the death toll could rise.The blast was the first terrorist attack of 2017 in Pakistan, which has been racked by Taliban violence in recent years.
Militant attacks have decreased significantly since the military began an offensive in North Wwaziristan, a focal point for Taliban and foreign militants, in 2014.Much of the militant violence last year was concentrated in the southwestern province of Baluchistan.'