The loss of life toll from a suspected suicide bomb that ripped by a mosque in northwestern Pakistan Monday has risen to at the least 92, marking one of many deadliest assaults within the nation in years because it faces what one analyst described as “a nationwide safety disaster.”
Peshawar deputy commissioner Shafiullah Khan on Tuesday confirmed the fatalities and stated greater than 80 victims had been nonetheless being handled in hospital following the blast on the mosque in a police compound within the metropolis.
Nasarullah Khan, a police official who survived the explosion, stated he remembered seeing “an enormous burst of flames” earlier than changing into surrounded by a plume of black mud.
Khan stated his foot broke within the blast and he was caught within the rubble for 3 hours.
“The ceiling fell in… the area in between the ceiling and wall is the place I managed to outlive,” he stated.
In the meantime, hope was fading within the seek for survivors as rescue staff sifted by the rubble of the mosque that was all however destroyed Monday, when worshipers – primarily legislation enforcement officers – had gathered for night prayers.
Pictures and video present partitions of the mosque diminished to fragments, with glass home windows and paneling destroyed within the highly effective blast.
“We aren’t anticipating anybody alive to be discovered. Largely lifeless our bodies are being recovered,” Bilal Faizi, a rescue spokesperson, stated Tuesday.
The blast Monday is the newest signal of the deteriorating safety scenario in Peshawar, capital of the restive Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province that borders Afghanistan and the positioning of frequent assaults by the Pakistani Taliban, referred to as Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP).
The TTP is a US-designated international terrorist group working in each Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Final yr, the breakdown of an already shaky year-long ceasefire between the TTP and Pakistan’s authorities threatened not solely escalating violence in that nation however doubtlessly a rise in cross-border tensions between the Afghan and Pakistani governments.
Initially on Monday, TTP officers Sarbakaf Mohmand and Omar Mukaram Khurasani had claimed the blast was “revenge” for the loss of life of TTP militant Khalid Khorasani final yr.
However the TTP’s fundamental spokesperson later denied the group was concerned within the assault.
“Concerning the Peshawar incident, we think about it essential to make clear that Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has nothing to do with this incident,” TTP spokesperson Muhammad Khorasani stated in a press release late Monday. “In accordance with our legal guidelines and common structure, any motion in mosques, madrasas, funerals grounds and different sacred locations is an offense.”
Pakistan authorities say an investigation is underway and haven’t confirmed both declare.
On Monday, Peshawar Police Chief Mohammad Aijaz Khan stated the blast contained in the Police Strains Mosque was “most likely a suicide assault,” echoing a press release from Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.
“The brutal killing of Muslims prostrating earlier than Allah is towards the teachings of the Quran,” Sharif stated, including that “concentrating on the Home of Allah is proof that the attackers don’t have anything to do with Islam.”
Rights teams have condemned the lethal assault, which has raised fears of recent violence amid a deteriorating safety scenario within the nation.
The Human Rights Fee of Pakistan in a press release Monday stated the assault may have been averted if the “state heeded earlier warnings from civil society about extremist outfits within the province.”
“Sick-equipped legislation enforcement personnel proceed to be focused in incidents that dearly value civilian and police lives. We demand the state take motion now,” the assertion stated.
Madiha Afzal, a fellow in international coverage on the Brookings Establishment in Washington, stated the 2021 Taliban takeover in Afghanistan has “emboldened” the TTP and different terror teams.
“The TTP has additionally been emboldened by a Pakistani state that has had a shaky, unsure response to the group within the final couple of years,” she stated, including a “sloppy coverage towards terrorist teams has been roughly constant throughout governments in Pakistan because the mid-2000s.”
Negotiations with the militants have “failed repeatedly as a result of these teams are existentially against the Pakistani state and structure,” she added.
“That is now a nationwide safety disaster for Pakistan as soon as once more. The answer must be a concerted navy operation (towards the TTP),” she stated. “However that’s now difficult by the truth that the TTP can go throughout the border into Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.”
The assault additionally comes at a fragile time for Pakistan, which has been grappling with a value of dwelling disaster as meals and gas shortages wreak havoc within the nation of 220 million.
Sharif’s authorities has struggled to revive the nation’s financial system, additional devastated by lethal floods final yr that killed greater than 1,500 individuals and submerged complete villages.