Blood-stained chairs, scattered ball bearings and shoes shed by the dead, wounded and panicked bore testimony Monday to the carnage caused by a suicide bombing at a Pakistan political event.
At least 44 people were killed and more than 100 wounded on Sunday evening when a blast ripped through a gathering of Islamic Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam-F party members in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The marquee hoisted in the town of Khar lay mangled and charred the morning after the explosion, partly collapsed onto blood-soaked carpets with around 400 upended red chairs strewn about.
“Upon arriving at the scene, I was confronted with a devastating sight,” Khar resident Fazal Aman, 29, told AFP on Monday.
“Lifeless bodies scattered on the ground while people cried out for help.”
Party paraphernalia, including hats and scarves in JUI-F’s black-and-white branding, were abandoned and trampled into the dusty ground, some flecked with dried blood.
– Mound of sandals –
Small remnants of human flesh and hair could be seen as far as 30 metres (100 feet) from a shattered stage, the apparent epicentre of the blast near Khar’s main bazaar.
A mound of about 40 sandals and shoes had been piled in the shade behind a yellow cordon of police tape as zebra-striped JUI-F flags fluttered in the breeze.
Investigators in rubber gloves and facemasks picked through the scene on Monday morning, one using a trowel to scoop up an evidence sample from a dark patch on the floor of the stage.
The site was swarmed by security forces carrying assault rifles and the surrounding roads were peppered with police checkpoints.
Regional counter-terrorism deputy inspector general Sohail Khalid told AFP the bomber used around 40 kilograms (90 pounds) of explosives, bound up with ball bearings to cause maximum carnage.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack but the local chapter of the Islamic State group has recently targeted JUI-F, a key government coalition partner led by a firebrand cleric.