Suicide bomber kills 20, wounds 96 at mosque in NW Pakistan | World News
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — A suicide bomber struck a mosque in the northwest Pakistani city of Peshawar on Monday, killing at least 20 people and injuring up to 96 worshipers, officials said.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing, said Saddique Khan, a senior police official in Peshawar, who gave the latest casualty figures, but Pakistan’s Taliban have been blamed for similar suicide bombings in the past.
The assassin detonated his suicide vest as about 150 worshipers – including many officers from nearby police stations – prayed inside it. The force of the blast caused the mosque’s roof to collapse, injuring many people, according to Zafar Khan, a local police officer.
One survivor, police officer Meena Gul, 38, said he was at the mosque when the bomb went off. He said he doesn’t know how he survived unharmed. He heard screams and screams after the bomb went off, Gul said.
Rescuers were trying to clear piles of rubble from the mosque’s grounds and get to worshipers who were still trapped under the rubble, police said. Khan said several of the wounded were in critical condition at a hospital and there were fears the death toll was rising.
Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif issued a statement condemning the bombing and instructing the authorities to provide the victims with the best possible medical treatment. He also promised “tough action” against those behind the attack.
Former Prime Minister Imran Khan also condemned the bombing, calling it a “suicide terrorist attack” in a Twitter post. “My prayers and condolences go out to the families of the victims,” said the ex-premier. “It is imperative that we improve our intelligence gathering and adequately equip our police forces to combat the growing threat of terrorism.”
Peshawar is the capital of the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa bordering Afghanistan and has often been the scene of militant attacks.
The Pakistani Taliban, known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP, are a separate group but also a close ally of the Afghan Taliban, who seized power in neighboring Afghanistan in August 2021 when US and NATO forces were in the Final phase was their withdrawal from the country after 20 years of war.
The TTP has led an insurgency in Pakistan for the past 15 years, fighting for stricter enforcement of Islamic law in the country, the release of its members in government custody and a reduction in the Pakistani military presence in the country’s former tribal areas.
Associated Press writer Munir Ahmed in Islamabad contributed to this report.
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