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Death Toll Climbs To At Least 85 In Pakistani Attacks

Smoke billows from the scene of a suicide bomb attack in Parachinar on June 23.
Smoke billows from the scene of a suicide bomb attack in Parachinar on June 23.

PARACHINAR, Pakistan -- Pakistani officials say the death toll from twin explosions in the northwestern town of Parachinar has risen to 67, bringing total deaths from multiple attacks across Pakistan on June 23 to at least 85.

The death toll could rise further as local government and hospital officials in Parachinar said on June 24 that many of the victims of the attacks are in critical condition.

Dr. Zulfiqar Ali, an official at a state-run hospital, told RFE/RL’s Radio Mashaal that they had received 261 victims from the twin attacks, with dozens in critical condition.

Ali said 61 people with severe injuries were airlifted to a hospital in Peshawar, a main city in Pakistan’s northwest.

The Sunni extremist group Lashkar-e Jhangvi claimed responsibility for the blasts at a crowded market in Parachinar, a predominantly Shi’ite town in the Kurram Tribal Agency. Kurram has a history of sectarian violence between Shi’ite and Sunni Muslims.

Police say the two blasts went off almost simultaneously near a bus terminal at Parachinar’s Tori market that was packed with people buying food to break their Ramadan fast.

The second blast occurred as people rushed to help those injured in the first explosion.

Three others were killed in Parachinar hours later when security officers opened fire to disperse demonstrators who gathered to condemn the attacks and demand authorities provide better security.

Local elders say police opened fire at protesters, but authorities insist that officers fired into the air.

RFE/RL's correspondent in Parachinar says that all markets and shops were closed on June 24 in a protest of authorities’ failure to provide security.

In the southwestern city of Quetta, 13 people, including seven policemen, were killed and 20 injured in a suicide car bombing on June 23. Two different militant groups -- a breakaway Taliban faction and the Islamic State -- claimed the Quetta attack.

On the evening on June 23, unknown attackers gunned down four police officers at a roadside restaurant in the southern port city of Karachi.

The latest wave of violence hit Pakistan as people prepare to celebrate the festival of Eid marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan on June 26.

With reporting by AP, dpa, and the BBC