At least 34 people were killed and several more were injured in a purported suicide bombing attack on a mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan, less than one year after the deaths of 62 people in another suicide bombing attack on a mosque in the same city.
According to the Pakistani daily Dawn, at least 150 people were injured in the attack which took place while many people had congregated for afternoon prayers.
The mosque is located inside a police complex and many of the people inside were police officers, according to the Associated Press.
The intensity of the blast, which some officials are attributing to a suicide bomber, caused the mosque’s roof to collapse.
The injured people, many of whom are in critical condition, have been transported to hospitals across the city.
Rescue operations are ongoing at the site as some people are believed to be trapped under the rubble.
No group or individual has so far claimed responsibility for the attack, but local media reports suggest it may have been carried out by the Pakistani Taliban—which, unlike the Afghan Taliban, has been designated as a terror group by Pakistan.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned the attack, saying the killing of Muslims at a place of worship is a violation of Islamic teaching and the perpetrators “have nothing to do with Islam”. He added: “Terrorists want to create fear by targeting those who perform the duty of defending Pakistan…The entire nation is standing united against the menace of terrorism.”
This is the second major terror attack on a worship site in Peshawar in the past year. In March last year, an Islamic State suicide bomber struck a Shia mosque in the city killing at least 62—making it Pakistan’s worst terror attack since 2018. The perpetrators of Monday’s attack, however, are believed to be the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a group with close ties to the Afghan Taliban. Unlike the Afghan Taliban—which has a diplomatic relationship with Islamabad—the TTP has led an insurgency in Pakistan’s northwest region bordering Afghanistan by targeting the country’s security forces. The TTP has sought more autonomy over the tribal regions in Northwest Pakistan, while also pushing for the imposition of a harsher interpretation of Islamic law in the region, similar to the Afghan Taliban.
Suicide bomber kills 27, wounds 147 at mosque in NW Pakistan (Associated Press)