By RIAZ KHAN (Associated Press)
PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — A suicide bomber struck a crowded mosque inside a police compound in Pakistan on Monday, inflicting the roof to break down and killing at the very least 59 folks and wounding greater than 150 others, officers stated.
Most of the casualties have been cops. It was not clear how the bomber was in a position to slip into the walled compound, which homes the police headquarters within the northwestern metropolis of Peshawar and is itself positioned in a high-security zone with different authorities buildings.
Sarbakaf Mohmand, a commander for the Pakistani Taliban, claimed accountability for the assault on Twitter. The essential spokesman for the militant group was not instantly out there for remark.
“The sheer scale of the human tragedy is unimaginable. This is no less than an attack on Pakistan,” tweeted Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who visited the wounded in Peshawar and vowed “stern action” towards these behind the bombing. He expressed his condolences to households of the victims, saying their ache ”can’t be described in phrases.”
Pakistan, which is generally Sunni Muslim, has seen a surge in militant assaults since November, when the Pakistani Taliban ended their cease-fire with authorities forces.
Earlier this month, in one other assault claimed by the Pakistani Taliban, a gunman shot and killed two intelligence officers, together with the director of the counterterrorism wing of the nation’s military-based spy company Inter-Services Intelligence. Security officers stated Monday the gunman was traced and killed in a shootout within the northwest close to the Afghan border.
Monday’s assault on a Sunni mosque contained in the police facility was one of many deadliest assaults on safety forces in recent times.
The militant group, often known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP, is separate from however a detailed ally of the Afghan Taliban. The TTP has waged an insurgency in Pakistan previously 15 years, looking for stricter enforcement of Islamic legal guidelines, the discharge of its members in authorities custody and a discount within the Pakistani army presence in areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province it has lengthy used as its base.
More than 300 worshippers have been praying within the mosque, with extra approaching, when the bomber set off his explosives vest. Many have been injured when the roof got here down, in line with Zafar Khan, a police officer, and rescuers needed to take away mounds of particles to succeed in worshippers nonetheless trapped beneath the rubble.
Meena Gul, who was within the mosque when the bomb went off, stated he doesn’t understand how he survived unharmed. The 38-year-old police officer stated he heard cries and screams after the blast.
Mohammad Asim, a spokesman on the essential authorities hospital in Peshawar, put the loss of life toll at 59, with 157 others wounded. Police official Siddique Khan the bomber blew himself up whereas among the many worshippers.
Senior police and authorities officers attended the funerals of 30 cops and preparations to bury the remaining have been being made. Coffins have been wrapped within the Pakistani flag their our bodies have been later handed over to kin for burials.
Peshawar is the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, the place the Pakistani Taliban have a robust presence, and the town has been the scene of frequent militant assaults.
The Afghan Taliban seized energy in neighboring Afghanistan in August 2021 as U.S. and NATO troops pulled overseas after 20 years of battle.
The Pakistani authorities’s truce with the TTP ended because the nation was nonetheless contending with unprecedented flooding that killed 1,739 folks, destroyed greater than 2 million properties, and at one level submerged as a lot as a 3rd of the nation.
Mohmand, of the militant group, stated a fighter carried out the assault to avenge the killing of Abdul Wali, who was broadly generally known as Omar Khalid Khurasani, and was killed in neighboring Afghanistan’s Paktika province in August 2022.
Afghanistan’s Foreign Ministry stated in a press release that it was “saddened to learn that numerous people lost their lives and many others were injured by an explosion at a mosque in Peshawar” and condemned assaults on worshippers as opposite to the teachings of Islam.
Condemnations additionally got here from the Saudi Embassy in Islamabad, in addition to the U.S. Embassy, including that “The United States stands with Pakistan in condemning all forms of terrorism.”
Cash-strapped Pakistan faces a extreme financial disaster and is looking for an important installment of $1.1 billion from the International Monetary Fund — a part of its $6 billion bailout package deal — to keep away from default. Talks with the IMF on reviving the bailout have stalled previously months.
Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan referred to as the bombing a “terrorist suicide attack.” He tweeted: “My prayers & condolences go to victims families. It is imperative we improve our intelligence gathering & properly equip our police forces to combat the growing threat of terrorism.”
Sharif’s authorities got here to energy in April after Khan was ousted in a no-confidence vote in Parliament. Khan has since campaigned for early elections, claiming his ouster was unlawful and a part of a plot backed by the United States. Washington and Sharif dismiss Khan’s claims.
Associated Press author Munir Ahmed in Islamabad contributed.