Pakistan: dozens killed in mosque blast in Peshawar | Pakistan
At least 32 people have been killed and 147 injured in a bomb attack allegedly carried out by the Pakistani Taliban at a mosque in the city of Peshawar as the security situation in Pakistan continues to deteriorate.
The explosion occurred as 200 worshipers were praying at a mosque located in the city’s police lines area, where police headquarters and counter-terrorism officers are based. It was believed that the majority inside the mosque were officers.
The explosion collapsed the roof and one wall of the mosque and injured many, said local police officer Zafar Khan. According to eyewitnesses, the explosion occurred in the main hall of the mosque just before the start of the afternoon prayers, and the congregation was tightly packed inside.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the explosion, but the Pakistani Taliban, known as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), have recently stepped up attacks in the region and are accused of similar suicide attacks against the military and police. For the past 15 years, the TTP has been leading an insurgency in Pakistan, fighting for greater enforcement of Islamic law and the release of imprisoned members.
Attacks by the TTP have increased since November after violating a ceasefire agreement with the government.
Rescuers who arrived at the scene tried to pull the parishioners trapped under piles of debris from the collapsed roof. Khan said several of the wounded were in critical condition in the hospital and there were fears that the death toll would rise.
Khan said between 300 and 400 police officers were in the area when the explosion occurred. “Obviously there was a security breach,” he told reporters.
Mina Gul, a police officer, said he was inside the mosque when the bomb went off and could hear screams and screams after the explosion.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shahbaz Shari called it a “suicide attack” and ordered the authorities to provide the survivors with the best possible medical care. “The terrorists want to create fear by targeting those who have the duty to protect Pakistan,” he said in a statement.
Former Prime Minister Imran Khan said that better intelligence gathering and police security are needed to “combat the growing threat of terrorism”.
Although the TTP is separated from the Taliban in Afghanistan, the Taliban’s rise to power in Kabul has strengthened the group in neighboring Pakistan, especially in the border province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.
In January, more than a dozen Taliban fighters attacked a police station in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and in December, dozens of Taliban detainees overpowered security at an anti-terrorism center in Bannu Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, took hostages and seized control of the facility for more than 24 hours.
Peshawar has been the target of frequent militant attacks and suicide bombings. In March 2022, 56 worshipers were killed in an explosion at a Shiite mosque in the city, with the Islamic State claiming responsibility for the explosion.