More than 50 people killed in multiple Pakistan attacks

Pakistani residents gather along a road as smoke billows after a twin blasts at a market in Parachinar, capital of Kurram tribal district, on June 23, 2017. (AFP)
Updated 23 June 2017

More than 50 people killed in multiple Pakistan attacks

Peshawar, Pakistan: Multiple blasts and a gun attack killed more than 50 people and wounded at least 170 in three Pakistani cities on the last Friday of Ramadan, Islam’s holiest month, as officials warned the toll could rise.
Authorities said 37 people were killed and more than 150 wounded when twin blasts tore through a market in Parachinar, capital of Kurram district, a mainly Shiite area of Pakistan’s tribal belt.
Local official Nasrullah Khan told AFP that the first blast detonated as the market was crowded with shoppers preparing for the Eid ul-Fitr festival marking the end of Ramadan.
“When people rushed to the site... to rescue the wounded, a second blast took place,” he said.
Basir Khan Wazir, the top government official in Parachinar later told AFP that apparently both the blasts were carried out by two suicide bombers.
“We have transported 15 injured to Peshawar but condition of 15 to 20 injured people were critical,” Wazir said and warned that the death toll could rise.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif called for security to be beefed up across the country as he condemned the attack, saying that no Muslim could ever imagine committing such a “horrific” act.
Pakistan has seen a dramatic improvement in security in the last two years, but groups such as the umbrella Pakistani Taliban and other extremist outfits still retain the ability to carry out attacks.
Local lawmaker Sajid Hussain Turi, the owner of the market, said bazaars in Parachinar had been barricaded off and vehicles banned from the area after multiple attacks have hit the city this year.
Parachinar was the location of the first major militant attack in Pakistan in 2017, a bomb in a market which killed 24 people in January and was claimed by the Pakistani Taliban. In March a second Taliban attack killed a further 22 people.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility for Friday’s attack.
Kurram, one of Pakistan’s seven semi-autonomous tribal districts, is known for sectarian clashes between Sunnis and Shiites, who make up roughly 20 percent of Pakistan’s population of 200 million.


The twin blasts in Parachinar followed a bombing earlier in the day in southwestern Quetta, capital of insurgency-wracked Balochistan province, that killed at least 13 people.
Investigators said the attack targeted police. It was claimed by both the local affiliate of the Daesh group and by Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), an offshoot of the Pakistani Taliban, according to the SITE monitoring group.
There was no immediate explanation for the dual claims. Islamic State Khorasan Province, the Middle Eastern group’s affiliate in Afghanistan and Pakistan, has been known to work with the myriad of Pakistani militant groups in previous attacks, including with JuA.
Officials at the city’s Civil Hospital said at least 13 people were killed and around 20 injured, mostly by shrapnel. Police officials said nine policemen were among the dead.
At the hospital in Quetta, worried children stood by the bloodstained cots of wounded relatives, and Pakistani soldiers visited injured colleagues.
Stunned survivors could give few details about the attack. “I was sitting on a chair. There was an explosion. I got injured and fell down,” said one victim, Gulzar Ahmad.
Separately, gunmen on motorcycles Friday shot dead four policemen sitting at a roadside restaurant at SITE area in southern port-city Karachi.
Asif Bughio, a senior police official, told AFP that four attackers wearing helmets fled the scene.
Pakistan has waged a long war with militancy, but security has markedly improved in the country since its deadliest-ever terror attack, an assault on a school in northwestern Peshawar in which Taliban gunmen left more than 150 people dead, most of them children.
That attack shocked a country already grimly accustomed to atrocities, and prompted the military to intensify an operation in the tribal areas targeting militants.
The army has also been fighting in mineral-rich Balochistan, the country’s most restive province, since 2004, with hundreds of soldiers and militants killed.
Its roughly seven million inhabitants have long complained they do not receive a fair share of its gas and mineral wealth, but a greater push by Pakistani authorities has reduced the violence considerably in recent years.


Coco bid ends in tears as Djokovic, Federer blast into quarterfinals

Updated 13 min 33 sec ago

Coco bid ends in tears as Djokovic, Federer blast into quarterfinals

  • Novak Djokovic was remorseles against Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman to book an 11th appearance in the last eight, where he will clash with big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic

MELBOURNE: Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer swept into the Australian Open quarterfinals but 15-year-old Coco Gauff exited in tears on Sunday after her quest to become the Open era’s youngest Grand Slam winner came screeching to a halt.

As Melbourne marked Australia Day with formation jets and a 21-gun salute, world No. 1 Ashleigh Barty had home fans celebrating before crowd favorite Federer dismantled Marton Fucsovics in the night match.

Djokovic, hunting his eighth Melbourne title, was remorseless against Argentina’s Diego Schwartzman, crushing the 14th seed 6-3, 6-4, 6-4 to book an 11th appearance in the last eight.

The Serb’s reward is a match-up with big-serving Canadian Milos Raonic, who is back in form after a run of injuries and dismissed 2018 finalist Marin Cilic 6-4, 6-3, 7-5.

“I’ve got to be ready for missiles coming from his side of the net,” said Djokovic, the 16-time Grand Slam winner.

Gauff’s giant-killing Australian debut generated hype dubbed ‘Cocomania’ as she attempted to become the youngest Major winner in the post-1968 Open Era, breaking the record set by a 16-year-old Martina Hingis in 1997.

Gauff beat seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams in round one and title-holder Naomi Osaka in the third, but she came unstuck against a determined Sofia Kenin.

Gauff raised hopes by edging the first set but then her fellow American took control and it was one-sided at the finish as Kenin won 6-7 (5/7), 6-3, 6-0.

“The thing I’m most proud of myself is how I handled it on the court,” said Gauff, who shed tears after her defeat. “Even though today I lost a set 6-0, I was still believing I could win it.”

Kenin, already on the best Grand Slam run of her career, next faces Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, who beat China’s Wang Qiang to become the first Arab woman to reach a Major quarterfinal.

Wang stunned Serena Williams in the third round but the 27th seed ran out of steam against Jabeur, who fought back from a break down in the first set to win 7-6 (7/4), 6-1.

Jabeur, the highest-ranked Arab woman in history — she reached a career-high 51 last year — is the first Tunisian woman to win a main-draw match at the Australian Open.

“I’m really shaking right now, it’s unbelievable, I can’t describe how I feel,” said the 25-year-old.

Australia’s Barty had some nervy moments against American Alison Riske, dropping the second set and briefly losing her way before recovering to win 6-3, 1-6, 6-4.

She now has an improving chance of becoming the first home-grown winner since Chris O’Neil in 1978 after six of the top 10 seeds exited in the previous round.

“I just had to hang in there and try and give myself a chance,” said Barty, who next plays Petra Kvitova, after the two-time Wimbledon champion beat Maria Sakkari 6-7 (4/7), 6-3, 6-2.

Later, Federer sent ripples of consternation around Rod Laver Arena when he dropped the first set against Hungary’s Fucsovics, the world No. 67.

But the 38-year-old Swiss, pushed to a fifth-set tie-breaker by Australia’s John Millman on Friday, came alive in the second set as he rattled through the match 4-6, 6-1, 6-2, 6-2.

“It just took me some time, I tried to mix it up a bit and just had to figure it out. From the beginning of the second set it got a little bit easier,” Federer said.

The 20-time Grand Slam champion’s quarter-final is against unseeded American Tennys Sandgren, who upset Italian 12th seed Fabio Fognini in four tough sets, 7-6 (7/5), 7-5, 6-7 (2/7), 6-4.