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 individuals and wounding greater than 150 others, officers mentioned.
Many of the casualties have been law enforcement officials. It was not clear how the bomber was capable of 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 principle spokesman for the militant group was not instantly accessible for remark.
“The sheer scale of the human tragedy is unimaginable. That is a minimum of an assault on Pakistan,” tweeted Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who visited the wounded in Peshawar and vowed “stern motion” 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-Companies Intelligence. Safety officers mentioned 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, also called 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, in search of stricter enforcement of Islamic legal guidelines, the discharge of its members in authorities custody and a discount within the Pakistani navy presence in areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province it has lengthy used as its base.
Greater 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 accordance with Zafar Khan, a police officer, and rescuers needed to take away mounds of particles to achieve worshippers nonetheless trapped below the rubble.
Meena Gul, who was within the mosque when the bomb went off, mentioned he doesn’t understand how he survived unharmed. The 38-year-old police officer mentioned he heard cries and screams after the blast.
Mohammad Asim, a spokesman on the principal 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 law enforcement officials and preparations to bury the remainder 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 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 warfare.
The Pakistani authorities’s truce with the TTP ended because the nation was nonetheless contending with unprecedented flooding that killed 1,739 individuals, 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, mentioned a fighter carried out the assault to avenge the killing of Abdul Wali, who was extensively often called Omar Khalid Khurasani, and was killed in neighboring Afghanistan’s Paktika province in August 2022.
Afghanistan’s Overseas Ministry mentioned in an announcement that it was “saddened to study that quite a few individuals misplaced their lives and plenty of others have been 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 “America stands with Pakistan in condemning all types of terrorism.”
U.N. Secretary-Basic Antonio Guterres referred to as the bombing “significantly abhorrent” for concentrating on a spot of worship, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric mentioned.
Cash-strapped Pakistan faces a severe economic crisis and is in search of an important installment of $1.1 billion from the Worldwide Financial Fund — a part of its $6 billion bailout bundle — 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 assault.” He tweeted: “My prayers & condolences go to victims households. It’s crucial we enhance our intelligence gathering & correctly equip our police forces to fight the rising menace 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 US. Washington and Sharif dismiss Khan’s claims.
Related Press author Munir Ahmed in Islamabad contributed.