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Mosque bombing kills 59 in Pakistan

Pakistani officials say an explosion at a crowded mosque inside a police compound has left at least 59 people dead.

January 31, 2023
31 January 2023

A powerful bombing that has targeted a crowded mosque frequented by police in the Pakistani city of Peshawar has left at least 59 people dead and 150 others injured, officials say.

The attack was one of the country’s deadliest in years and struck during afternoon prayers on Monday at the mosque, located inside a high-security zone next to a police headquarters.

The majority of the people confirmed dead are members of the police force, a hospital spokesperson told the DPA news agency.

Many of the wounded with minor injuries were discharged from the hospital, Asim Khan, a spokesman of the Lady Reading Hospital, the biggest health facility in the city, said.

Khan suggested the death toll could rise, saying more than a dozen of the injured were in critical condition.

Police have not confirmed how the attack was carried out but it is believed to have been a suicide bombing.

No group has claimed responsibility.

Peshawar is located near the border with Afghanistan.

Local media showed the damaged mosque as rescuers tried to save people trapped under the rubble. 

A portion of the building collapsed and the roof caved in.

Peshawar’s police chief said that the capacity of the main hall of the mosque was nearly 300 and it was nearly packed to capacity at the time of the explosion.

“At least five people were still strapped under a portion of a collapsed roof and we are trying to save their lives,” Bilal Faizi, a spokesperson for provincial rescue department said.

A policeman who survived the attack told Geo News that the explosion took place the moment prayers started.

“It was a powerful explosion. There was smoke everywhere after the blast,” he said.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif visited the hospital and said that the attackers behind the incident “have nothing to do with Islam”.

“Terrorists want to create fear by targeting those who perform the duty of defending Pakistan,” he said.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said that an inquiry would be conducted into how the multi-layered security infrastructure was breached.

Last month, a car bomb rocked Islamabad killing one police officer.

Violence has surged in Pakistan after months of peace talks between the government in Islamabad and the Taliban militants hiding in Afghanistan collapsed in November. 

Negotiations were being brokered by the Haqqani network of the Afghan Taliban.

Both the Pakistani Taliban and Islamic State militants have targeted worshippers at mosques in the past.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), or Pakistani Taliban, who follow the same hardline interpretation of Sunni Islam as their Afghan counterparts but have a different organisation, have killed about 80,000 people in decades of violence.

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