Suicide bomber kills 28, wounds 150 at mosque in NW Pakistan

Suicide bomber kills 28, wounds 150 at mosque in NW Pakistan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — A suicide bomber struck at a mosque at a police compound in the northwest Pakistani city of Peshawar on Monday, killing at least 28 people and injuring up to 150 worshipers, most of them police officers, officials said.

The bombing was condemned across the country by opposition parties and government officials. Ghulam Ali, the provincial governor in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, where Peshawar is the capital, said there were fears the death toll could rise further.

Most of the victims were police officers and police officers – the mosque attacked is located on an extensive compound that also serves as the city’s police headquarters. Police said between 300 and 350 worshipers were inside the mosque when the bomber detonated his explosives.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing, said Saddique Khan, a senior police official in Peshawar, but the Pakistani Taliban have been blamed for similar suicide bombings in the past.

The police compound is located in a high-security zone in Peshawar, along with several government buildings, and it was unclear how the bomber managed to get so deep into the zone unnoticed.

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. At a nearby hospital, many of the wounded were in critical condition as the death toll mounted.

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 has been the scene of frequent 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.

Pakistan has seen a surge in militant attacks since November, when the Pakistani Taliban ended their ceasefire with government forces.

The ceasefire ended as Pakistan was still grappling with last summer’s unprecedented floods that killed 1,739 people, destroyed more than 2 million homes and at one point submerged a third of the country. Flood damage totaled more than $30 billion and authorities are still struggling months later to organize tents, shelter and food for survivors.

Cash-strapped Pakistan is also facing one of the worst economic crises right now and is seeking a crucial $1.1 billion installment from the International Monetary Fund – part of its $6 billion bailout package – to avoid a default. Talks with the IMF about reviving the rescue package have stalled in recent months.

Sharif’s government came to power last April after Imran Khan was ousted in a vote of no confidence in parliament. Khan has since campaigned for a snap election, claiming his ouster was illegal and part of a US-backed conspiracy. Washington and Sharif have dismissed Khan’s claims.


Associated Press writer Munir Ahmed in Islamabad contributed to this report.

Riaz Khan, The Associated Press

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