Bajaur bombing death toll rises to 56 as IS accepts responsibility

PESHAWAR (Reuters): The death toll from a suicide bombing in northwest Pakistan that targeted a JUI-F rally has risen to 56, a government official said on Tuesday.

The toll from Sunday’s attack at Khar – the main town in Bajaur district on the border with Afghanistan – could rise, said Anwar-ul-Haq, the region’s deputy commissioner.

Meanwhile, the Islamic State militant group claimed responsibility for the attack on the JUI-F gathering, which has been accused of having links to the hard-liners but condemns militants seeking to overthrow the government.

The party is allied with Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s ruling coalition, which is preparing for a general election that must be held by November.

Shehbaz denounced the suicide attack, which came after months of political tension and an economic crisis, as an attack on the democratic process.

Islamic State’s Amaq news agency said in a claim for the attack on its Telegram channel that democracy was hostile to Islam.

“The attack comes in the natural context of the ongoing war waged by the Islamic State against ‘democracy’ as a regime hostile to true Islam and in conflict with its divine law,” the news agency said.