Image source: Geo tv
A deadly suicide bomb ripped through a mosque in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar and has killed nearly 100 with more than 225 injuries, Aljazeera reported.
The incident occurred on Monday, 30th January, in a mosque in Police Lines, a high-security compound. Tehreek- e -Taliban Pakistan (TTP) denied the responsibility it admitted earlier.
“So far, 100 bodies have been brought to Lady Reading Hospital,” the spokesperson for the Lady Reading hospital in the city, Mohammad Asim, said in a statement on Tuesday. The vast majority of those killed in Monday’s bombing were police officers, he added.
The mosque is in one of the city’s most heavily controlled areas, including provincial police headquarters and intelligence and counter-terrorism departments. The blast took place around 13:30 (08:30 GMT) during afternoon prayers in the mosque’s main hall, which can accommodate 200— 300 worshippers. According to the officials, the bomber had been standing in the front row during the prayers.
Initially, on Monday, TTP officials Sarbakaf Mohmand and Omar Mukaram Khurasani claimed the blast was “revenge” for the death of TTP militant Khalid Khorasani last year. Later, the TTP's leading spokesperson denied involvement in the attack.
“Regarding the Peshawar incident, we consider it necessary to clarify that Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has nothing to do with this incident,” TTP spokesperson Muhammad Khorasani said in a statement late Monday. “According to our laws and general constitution, any action in mosques, madrasas, funerals grounds, and other sacred places is an offense.”
A powerful explosion destroyed the mosque's roof, glass windows, and paneling but left the other building intact. Several bodies were inside the debris, and rescuers had to remove mounds of rubble to recover many of the bodies.
“We are not expecting anyone alive to be found. Mostly dead bodies are being recovered,” said Bilal Faizi, a rescue spokesperson.
Peshawar Police Inspector General Moazim Jah Ansari believes that a suicide bomber used explosives weighing 12 kilograms (26.5 pounds), CNN reported. Khan said between 300 and 400 police officers were in the vicinity when the blast occurred, and the bomber had breached multiple layers of security to enter the mosque.
“It is apparent that a security lapse occurred,” he told reporters.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif promised to take “stern action” against those behind the attack as he visited a hospital in Peshawar on Monday. Shehbaz has demanded an immediate report from IG KPK over the attack.
"Terrorists want to create fear by targeting those who perform the duty of defending Pakistan," Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said.
A local newspaper reported that the caretaker chief minister of the province, Azam Khan, had ordered a joint investigation team (JIT) to probe the deadly attack.
On Thursday, IG briefed the media about the progress in the Peshawar blast and said that the suicide bomber entered the Police Lines area on a motorcycle and was traced by CCTV cameras.
“Peshawar blast was a suicide attack, and we have traced the bomber,” he said.
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the bombing “particularly abhorrent” for targeting a place of worship.
Pakistan has seen a surge in attacks since November after the TTP ended a ceasefire with the government. The attack comes at a fragile time for Pakistan, which has been facing a severe economic crisis after being devastated by deadly floods last year that killed more than 1,500 people and submerged entire villages.
The city of Peshawar – located at the edge of Pakistan’s tribal districts that border Afghanistan – has frequently been the site of attacks by the TTP and other militant groups. Last March, Peshawar was the target of another bombing, which killed 61 in a Shia Muslim mosque in the majority Sunni Muslim country. The Islamic State (ISIS) took responsibility for the attack. The city also witnessed the School Massacre commemorated on December 16 as Black Day. This suicide attack is the deadliest in Peshawar’s history against the police.
A “comprehensive strategy” is in the works to restore law and order in the northwest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where Peshawar is located, PM Sharif said.
Condemnations pour in for Pakistan from around the world following the blast. Saudi and the US embassy send their condolence to the people of Pakistan.
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