Peshawar: 93 people have died as a result of the suicide bombing in Peshawar, Pakistan's northwest, and at least 157 others have been hurt, some of them seriously.
In Pakistan, a heavily guarded security compound, a suicide bomber detonated himself inside a crowded mosque on Monday, the most recent in a series of assaults against police.
The Red Zone compound, which houses the police and counterterrorism offices in the northwest city of Peshawar, is where the attacker is believed to have breached several security force-manned barricades, according to police.
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Peshawar police chief Muhammad Ijaz Khan declared, "It was a suicide bombing."
Authorities claimed that the bomber set off the explosives as large crowds of people gathered in line to pray. Khan stated, "We have discovered explosive traces.
He claimed that the bomber's evasion through the compound's most secure area was clear evidence of a security lapse.
An investigation into how the attacker got past such a high-level security perimeter and whether there was any inside assistance is currently underway.
Up to 400 worshippers were crammed into the mosque hall, according to Khan, and the majority of those killed were police officers.
"I think 90% of the casualties are police personnel," Peshawar district administrator Riaz Mehsud told Arab News. "Most of those offering prayers in the mosque were policemen."
The bomber, according to Defence Minister Khawaja Asif, was positioned in the front row of worshippers. When the bomb exploded inside the mosque, police constable Ahmad Khan was there and reported that the roof had collapsed. It was time for Zuhr prayers, according to Khan. "When the explosion occurred, I was sitting in the second row among worshippers. Many worshippers were trapped when the mosque's roof collapsed, but I was able to escape with only minor wounds.
Mushtaq Khan, a second injured police officer, said: "We were unable to determine what had occurred because the bang was so loud. I was thrown off the veranda by it. I was struck by the roof and walls. I am grateful that God saved me.
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As the police and rescuers raced to get the injured patients to hospitals, witnesses described chaotic scenes.
Dozens of worshippers were caught in the rubble after the explosion brought the mosque's upper floor down. Rescuers could be seen in real-time television footage hacking through the rooftop that had fallen to descend and tend to the injured. The provincial governor, Haji Ghulam Ali, said, "We can't say how many are still affected."
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, also known as the Pakistani Taliban or Sarbakaf Mohmand, claimed responsibility for the attack in a tweet.
Hours later, however, TTP spokesman Mohammad Khurasani dissociated the group from the bombing, claiming that it was against TTP policy to target mosques, seminaries, and other places of worship. He also warned that those who engaged in such behaviour could face retaliation. He said nothing about the reason a TTP commander had taken credit for the bombing.
Peshawar, the capital of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which is home to the Pakistani Taliban, has witnessed numerous militant attacks.
Since the group broke a ceasefire agreement with the government in May of last year, attacks have increased. The attack on Monday was the worst to hit Peshawar since a Daesh suicide bomber killed at least 58 people in a mosque during Friday prayers in March 2022.
The human tragedy's sheer scope is beyond comprehension, according to Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif. This can only be described as an assault on Pakistan. The country is experiencing intense grief. Terrorism is without a doubt the biggest threat to our national security. "Deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims of the horrific attack," the US embassy in Pakistan said.
Sharif urged people to donate blood to those hurt in the attack, especially members of his Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz ruling party. He tweeted, "Reach Lady Reading Hospital, Peshawar, and help save priceless human lives."
The strength of the unity of the state and the people will be used to thwart the terrorists' sinister attempt to sow fear and terror by attacking the institutions in charge of defending Pakistan, the PM was quoted as saying in a statement from Peshawar.
The prime minister added, "Pakistan has made great sacrifices against terrorism; we will not let the sacrifices of martyrs go in vain," and pledged to increase the capacity and effectiveness of law enforcement and anti-terrorist institutions.
Ahmad Khan, a police constable, stated that it was time for Zuhr (afternoon) prayers. "When the explosion occurred, I was sitting in the second row among worshippers. Many worshippers were trapped when the mosque's roof collapsed, but I was able to escape with only minor wounds.
According to police officer Zafar Khan, many people were hurt when the roof collapsed, and rescuers had to clear mountains of rubble to get to worshippers who were still buried beneath it.
Meena Gul said he doesn't know how he managed to escape unharmed while inside the mosque when the bomb went off. After the explosion, the 38-year-old policeman claimed to have heard screams and cries.
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Bomber Siddique Khan, a police official, detonated himself while worshipping.
The funerals of 30 police officers were attended by senior police and government officials, and plans were being made to bury the remaining officers. Their bodies were later given to relatives for burial after being placed in coffins draped in the Pakistani flag.