A market in the Shiite area of Kurram was targeted by a suicide bomber killing 22 and injuring at least 50 people. The Kurram region is along the Pakistan and Afghanistan border. The Taliban and Lashker-e-Jhangvi claimed responsibility for the joint attack. Lashker-e-Jhangvi or LeJ is a Sunni terrorist organization that primarily targets Shia within Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Shahid Khan, an assistant tribal administrator, said the explosion took place when the market was crowded with retailers buying fruits and vegetables from a wholesale shop. He said the attack was being investigated.

Lashker-e-Jhangvi, a banned sectarian militant group that has attacked minority Shiites Muslims in the past, claimed responsibility for the attack. The bombing took place in a predominantly Shiite area of Kurram, which has seen attack(s) by Sunni militants who have hideouts there. Shiites are a minority in Pakistan.

“That was our combined work with Shahryar group of Mahsud Taliban,” Ali Sufyan, a spokesman for the banned group, wrote in a text message to an AP reporter.”- New York Times

This past week a Lashkar-e-Jhangvi’s chief Asif Chotu and three others were killed in a counter-terror operation near Lahore. According to the The Tribune of India, this operation came just 18 months after his predecessor was killed.

Asif Chotu

Outlawed Lashkar-e-Jhangvi’s chief Asif Chotu, who was on Pakistan’s most wanted terrorist list and carried a bounty of Rs 3,000,000 on his head, was killed along with his three associates near here, police said today.“Four terrorists including the chief of banned LeJ were killed by the Counter-Terrorism Department in an encounter last night near Sheikhupura, about 40-km northwest of Lahore,” a CTD spokesperson said.

The CTD said the LeJ had been preparing to launch an attack on staff and offices of a sensitive agency in Lahore and they were coming on four motorcycles from Farooqabad towards Sheikhupura for onward journey to the city when they were shot.”

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The attack in the Shia market was likely a retaliatory attack from the CTD operation earlier in the week that killed the LeJ leader and other members.

Image courtesy of EPA