Monday Jul 22, 2024
Monday Jul 22, 2024

Pakistan mosque bombing: Death toll now at 95


Nepalnews
2023 Jan 31, 17:35, PESHAWAR
Rescue workers conduct an operation to clear the rubble and search for bodies at the site of Monday's suicide bombing, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. (AP Photo)

A senior police official in Pakistan says the death toll in the Peshawar suicide mosque bombing has now climbed to 95 and acknowledges a serious “security lapse” that led to the tragedy.

Kashif Aftab Abbasi, a senior officer in Peshawar, told reporters on Tuesday that along with the 95 now confirmed fatalities, at least 225 people were wounded, most of them policemen who were praying inside the mosque when the bomber struck the day before.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. AP’s earlier story follows below.

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A suicide bombing that killed dozens of policemen at a mosque in a government compound in northwest Pakistan reflects “security lapses,” current and former officials said.

The blast, which ripped through a Sunni mosque inside a major police facility the mosque, was one of the deadliest attacks on Pakistani security forces in recent years, with a death toll that rose to 88 Tuesday.

More than 300 worshippers were praying in the mosque in the city of Peshawar, with more approaching, when the bomber set off his explosives vest on Monday morning, officials said.

The explosion blew off part of the roof, and what was left soon caved in, injuring many more, according to Zafar Khan, a police officer. Rescuers had to remove mounds of debris to reach worshippers still trapped under the rubble.

More bodies were retrieved overnight and early Tuesday, according to Mohammad Asim, a government hospital spokesman in Peshawar, and several of those critically injured died. “Most of them were policemen,” Asim said of the victims. The bombing also wounded more than 150 people.

Rescue workers gather as they conduct an operation to clear the rubble and find the bodies at the site of Monday's suicide bombing, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. (AP Photo)
Rescue workers gather as they conduct an operation to clear the rubble and find the bodies at the site of Monday's suicide bombing, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. (AP Photo)

Bilal Faizi, the chief rescue official, said rescue teams were still working Tuesday at the site as more people are believed trapped inside. Mourners were burying the victim at different graveyards in the city and elsewhere.

Counter-terrorism police are investigating how the bomber was able to reach the mosque, which is in a walled compound, inside a high security zone with other government buildings.

Talat Masood, a retired army general and senior security analyst said Monday’s suicide bombing showed “negligence.”

Kamkan Bangash, a provincial secretary-general with opposition party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf called for an investigation and said Pakistan will continue to face political instability so long as the current government is in power.

The military’s media wing declined an Associated Press interview request for the chief of army staff. Asim Munir, who took office in November, has yet to do any media appearances.

Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif visited a hospital in Peshawar after the bombing and vowed “stern action” against those behind the attack.

Authorities have not determined who was behind the bombing. Shortly after the explosion, TTP commander Sarbakaf Mohmand claimed responsibility for the attack in a post on Twitter.

But hours later, TTP spokesperson Mohammad Khurasani distanced the group from the bombing, saying it was not its policy to target mosques, seminaries and religious places, adding that those taking part in such acts could face punitive action under TTP’s policy. His statement did not address why a TTP commander had claimed responsibility for the bombing.

People attend the funeral prayer for a police officer killed in Monday's suicide bombing inside a mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. (AP Photo)
People attend the funeral prayer for a police officer killed in Monday's suicide bombing inside a mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan, Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. (AP Photo)

Pakistan, which is mostly Sunni Muslim, has seen a surge in militant attacks since November, when the Pakistani Taliban ended a cease-fire with government forces, as the country was contending with unprecedented floods that killed 1,739 people, destroyed more than 2 million homes, and at one point submerged as much as a third of the country.

The Pakistani Taliban are the dominant militant group in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and Peshawar has been the scene of frequent attacks. But the Islamic State in Khorasan Province, a regional affiliation of the Islamic State group and a rival of the Taliban, has also been behind deadly attacks in Pakistan in recent years. Overall, violence has increased since the Afghan Taliban seized power in neighboring Afghanistan in August 2021, as U.S. and NATO troops pulled out of the country after 20 years of war.

The TTP is separate from but a close ally of the Afghan Taliban. It has waged an insurgency in Pakistan in the past 15 years, seeking stricter enforcement of Islamic laws, the release of its members in government custody and a reduction in the Pakistani military presence in areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province it has long used as its base.

Earlier this month, the Pakistani Taliban claimed one of its members shot and killed two intelligence officers, including the director of the counterterrorism wing of the country’s military-based spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence. Security officials said Monday the gunman was traced and killed in a shootout in the northwest, near the Afghan border. In 2014, a Pakistani Taliban faction attacked an army-run school in Peshawar and killed 154, mostly schoolchildren.

The Taliban-run Afghan Foreign Ministry said it was “saddened to learn that numerous people lost their lives” in Peshawar and condemned attacks on worshippers as contrary to the teachings of Islam.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken, who is on a visit to the Middle East, tweeted his condolences, saying the bombing in Peshawar was a “horrific attack.”

Pakistan is also contending with political and economic crises in the wake of the floods and a disputed election.

Condemnations also came from the Saudi Embassy in Islamabad, as well as the U.S. Embassy, which said that the “United States stands with Pakistan in condemning all forms of terrorism.”

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the bombing “particularly abhorrent” for targeting a place of worship, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

Former Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan also expressed his condolences, calling the bombing a “terrorist suicide attack.”

READ ALSO:

Pakistan mosque bombing Death toll now at 95 suicide mosque bombing suicide bombing Associated Press
Nepal's First Online News Portal
Published by Nepalnews Pvt Ltd
Editor: Raju Silwal
Information Department Registration No. 1505 / 076-77

Contact

Kathmandu, Nepal,


Newsroom
##

E-mail
[email protected]

Terms of Use Disclaimer
© NepalNews. 2021 All rights reserved. | Nepal's First News Portal