At least 61 people were killed and 157 injured in a powerful suicide bombing during afternoon prayers at a mosque in the high-security area of Peshawar in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Safety and health officials reported this information. Around 1.40 pm, worshipers were performing Zuhr (afternoon) prayers near the Police Lines area when a suicide bomber sitting in the front row detonated his explosives, officials said. According to him, the worshipers included police, army and bomb disposal squad personnel.
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Officials at Lady Reading Hospital have said that 48 people have died so far. Most of the injured were policemen. A brother of slain Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan commander Omar Khalid said the suicide attack was revenge for his brother’s death in Afghanistan last August. The banned group, also known as the Pakistani Taliban, has carried out several suicide attacks targeting security personnel in the past.
Peshawar’s Superintendent of Police (Investigation) Shahjad Gauqab told media that he was entering the mosque to offer prayers when the blast occurred, but he luckily survived. His office is near the mosque. A police official said a part of the mosque collapsed due to the blast and many people may have been buried under the rubble. According to him, the bomber entered the four-story security mosque within the police perimeter.
Quoting Capital City Police (Peshawar) Muhammad Ijaz Khan, the Dawn newspaper reported that several soldiers were buried under the rubble and rescue workers were trying to pull them out. Khan said 300-400 police officers were in the area at the time of the blast. He said that it is clear that there has been a security breach.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif strongly condemned the attack and said that the attackers behind the incident had nothing to do with Islam. Terrorists aim to create fear by targeting those on duty to protect Pakistan. He said the sacrifice of those who died in the blast will not go in vain. “The entire nation is united in the fight against this menace of terrorism,” he said. Sharif said a comprehensive strategy would be adopted to combat the deteriorating law and order situation in restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the central government would help the provinces to develop. Anti-terrorism capability
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also condemned the attack, saying “terrorist incidents ahead of local and general elections have a clear meaning.” Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Governor Haji Ghulam Ali condemned the blast and appealed to people to donate blood for the injured. He said this would be of great help to the police. The injured are being shifted to Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar, officials said. According to hospital sources, the condition of 13 of them is critical.
A state of emergency has been declared in Peshawar hospitals. The hospital administration has requested people to donate blood. Following the Peshawar blast, security has been beefed up in major cities including Islamabad. Security has been beefed up on all roads leading to and from Islamabad and snipers have been deployed at key locations and buildings. Caretaker Chief Minister Azam Khan condemned the attack and condoled with the victims.
Former Prime Minister Imran Khan strongly condemned the attack. Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf tweeted, “My deepest condolences to the families of the dead and injured. It is necessary to improve intelligence gathering and strengthen the police force to face the growing terror threat. .”
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