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Death toll rises in Pakistan market blast

At least a dozen people have been killed in a bomb attack targeting Shiite Muslims in Pakistan's Kurram tribal region. Sectarian violence has escalated in the past decade following the US-led invasion of Afghanistan.

Pakistani officials said Sunday that the death toll from a bomb explosion in a market rose to 12 people, with the death toll expected to rise.

sThe bomb was detonated in a market in the town of Parachinar, located in the semi-autonomous tribal region of Kurram.

"At least 12 have died and around 50 have been injured," said Amjad Ali Khan, the political head of the Kurram area.

The attack targeted members of the Shiite Muslim community, many of whom were shopping at the used-clothes market in preparation for winter.

"Some of the injured are in critical condition and we are planning to send them to Peshawar and Kohat for better treatment," said Shafiq Hussain, a health worker for the Agency Headquarters Hospital in Parachinar, reported news outlet Reuters.

A militant group affiliated with the "Islamic State" (IS) allegedly claimed responsibility for the attack, according to German news agency DPA.

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Escalating sectarian violence

The Kurram tribal region has witnessed an escalation in sectarian strife between Sunni and Shiite Muslims since 2004, when an Islamist insurgency erupted after al-Qaeda and Taliban militants entered Pakistan from Afghanistan following the US-led invasion.

According to watchdog South Asia Terror Portal, the insurgency in Pakistan's northwestern tribal regions has killed around 25,000 civilians and security personnel.

In 2015, a nationwide military-led offensive against militants in the region led to a slight decrease in sectarian violence.

The deadliest attack against Shiites in Pakistan occurred in 2013, when a suicide bomber detonated explosives at a snooker hall, with a truck exploding nearby as rescue workers responded to the scene. Nearly 100 people were killed in the attack.

ls/es (AFP, AP, Reuters, dpa)

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