Thursday, March 23, 2023

Pakistan mosque suicide attack death toll rises to 100

Bodies were still being pulled Tuesday from the wreckage of a mosque blast that targeted police officers in northwestern Pakistan, killing as many as 100 people, mostly policemen.

Almost 200 people were wounded in the blast, which demolished the upper story of the mosque as more than 300 worshippers performed noon prayers.

“This morning we are going to remove the last part of the collapsed roof so we can recover more bodies, but we are not hopeful of reaching any survivors,” Bilal Ahmad Faizi, a spokesperson for the rescue organization 1122, told AFP.

Peshawar deputy commissioner Shafiullah Khan on Tuesday confirmed the fatalities and said more than 80 victims were still being treated in hospital following the blast at the mosque in a police compound in the city.

Photos and video showed the walls of the mosque reduced to fragments, with glass windows destroyed in the powerful blast.

Officials say they do not know how the suicide bomber managed to enter the area protected by a series of checkpoints manned by police and military personnel.

The bombing occurred a day before an International Monetary Fund (IMF) mission arrived in Islamabad for talks on a stalled $7 billion bailout.

Conflicting claims

The blast is the latest sign of the worsening security situation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province that borders Afghanistan. In recent months, the country has witnessed frequent attacks claimed by the banned militant organization Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) – a US-designated foreign terrorist organization operating from Afghanistan, according to Pakistani officials.

The attack in the Police Lines area follows a surge in violence targeting police in this restive, northwestern city near the Afghan border. No group has claimed responsibility.

Funeral prayers

On Monday night, collective funeral prayers for 27 police martyrs were offered in Peshawar’s Police Lines area. More funerals were carried out for more than 20 police officers, their coffins draped with the Pakistan flag.

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