- Explosion occurred in a mosque during prayer time
- Most of the victims were police officers
- So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the blast
PESHAWAR, Pakistan, January 30 (Reuters) – A suicide bombing at a crowded mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan, killed at least 32 people on Monday.
Hospital officials said at least 147 people were injured, many of them in critical condition.
Prime Minister Shebaz Sharif called the blast a suicide bombing. At least 260 people were in the mosque, police official Sikandar Khan added.
No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing, which ripped through the mosque during midday prayers, causing a wall to collapse on top of the worshipers. The building is located in a highly fortified compound containing the headquarters of the provincial police and an anti-terrorism department.
“We understand that the terrorist was in the front row,” Defense Minister Khawaja Asif told Geo TV.
Images from government broadcaster PTV show police and residents rushing to remove the debris from the blast site and carrying injured people on their shoulders.
The attack was the worst in the city since March last year, when a suicide bombing at a Shia Muslim mosque during Friday prayers killed at least 58 people and injured nearly 200.
Located on the outskirts of Pakistan’s tribal districts bordering Afghanistan, Peshwar is a regular target of militant groups, including the Pakistani Taliban.
The group, known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), is an umbrella of Sunni and sectarian Islamist groups seeking to overthrow the government and replace it with their own brand of Islamic rule.
The TTP has ramped up attacks since it ended a so-called peace deal with the Pakistani government last year, which was facilitated by the Afghan Taliban.
TTP has regularly attacked the police in recent months. In December, Islamist militants seized a counter-terrorism center in the northwest and held it hostage to negotiate with the government.
Report by Jibran Ahmad in Peshawar, written by Shilpa Jamkhandikar; adaptation by Miral Fahmy, Simon Cameron-Moore and Bernadette Baum
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