KURRAM AGENCY – Terror returned to Kurram Agency on Friday when two blasts in a busy Parachinar market claimed the lives of at least 72 people and left over 300 others injured.

Most of the casualties were reported in Parachinar’s twin blasts, where Shahid Khan, a government official confirmed there were at least 67 dead and about 200 wounded.

Pakistan Army and Frontier Corps personnel reached the site – Tori Bazaar – after the blasts and cordoned off the area.

Survivors described hiding inside shops after hearing a “huge bang” – then stumbling through dust-choked air filled with the sound of screams, tripping over bodies as they searched for the wounded in the busy market in Parachinar, the capital of Kurram tribal agency.

Hundreds of people were busy shopping for upcoming Eidul Fitr.

The intensity of the blast could be gauged from the damage that has been caused to the houses and cars in the vicinity, said Kurram Agency political agent Shoukat Yousafzai.

Security forces have cordoned off the affected site and are conducting a search operation.

“Two Army aviation helicopters have taken off from Peshawar to Parachinar for the speedy evacuation of the injured to Peshawar,” a statement issued by the military’s media wing said.

“Rescue operation in progress,” it added.

Parachinar, with a population of more than 50,000, has been under strict security arrangements for quite some time. Army and paramilitary personnel have set up checkpoints on all routes leading to the town and visitors and vehicles go through extensive search and identification process.

On March 31 this year, the city had suffered a similar tragedy when 23 people were killed in a car bomb blast near an Imam­bargah at midday. More than 70 others were wounded in the attack. Another person had died later after security forces opened fire on a crowd trying to hold a demonstration in front of the political agent’s office in protest against increasing terrorist attacks.

Likewise, 25 people were killed and 87 others suffered injuries when a bomb went off during peak business hours at a crowded vegetable market in the city in January this year. In what appeared to be a sign of growing cooperation among extremists, two banned groups had come forward to claim the deadly assault, with one describing the incident as a suicide attack.

Kurram agency is considered one of the most sensitive tribal regions as it borders three Afghan provinces and was once the main route for cross-border militant activity.