Death toll from Pakistan mosque suicide bombing rises to 74

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (APP) – The death toll from yesterday’s suicide bombing at a mosque in northwest Pakistan rose to 74 on Tuesday as rescue workers pulled 15 more from the rubble, police and rescue officials said. Remove the bodies.

Chief rescue official Bilal Faizi said they were removing the debris after the roof of the mosque collapsed following the attack.

He said that more than 150 people were injured in the bomb blast in the northwestern city of Peshawar. It was not clear how the bomber managed to penetrate the walled compound in a high-security area with other government buildings.

Also, on Tuesday, mourners buried the victims of the blasts in Peshawar and other places in different graveyards.

Sarbakif Mohmand, a commander of the Pakistani Taliban, also known as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP, claimed responsibility for the attack in a post on Twitter.

But a few hours later, TTP spokesman Mohammad Khorasani distanced the group from the bombing, saying it was not its policy to target mosques, madrassas and religious places, adding that those involved in such acts would be punished. Punitive action may be taken under TTP policy. His statement did not say why a TTP commander had claimed responsibility for the blast.

“The sheer scale of the human tragedy is unimaginable. This is nothing short of an attack on Pakistan,” tweeted Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif.who visited the injured in Peshawar and vowed “stern action” against those behind the blast. Expressing his condolences to the families of the victims, he said that their pain cannot be expressed in words.

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Pakistan, which is predominantly Sunni Muslim, has seen an increase in militant attacks since November, when the Pakistani Taliban ended a ceasefire with government forces.

Earlier this month, the Pakistani Taliban claimed that one of its members had shot dead two intelligence officers, including one from the counter-terrorism wing of the country’s military-based intelligence agency, Inter-Services Intelligence. The director is also involved. The gunman was tracked down and killed in a shootout in the northwest near the Afghan border, security officials said on Monday.

The TTP is a separate but close ally of the Afghan Taliban. The TTP has waged an insurgency in Pakistan over the past 15 years, demanding stricter enforcement of Islamic law, the release of its members in government custody, and a reduction in Pakistani military presence in these areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. which she has been using as her base for a long time. .

Monday’s attack on a Sunni mosque inside a police facility was one of the deadliest attacks on security forces in recent years.

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More than 300 worshipers were praying in the mosque when the attacker detonated his explosive jacket. According to Zafar Khan, a police officer, several people were injured when the roof collapsed, and rescue workers had to remove piles of rubble to reach worshipers trapped under the debris.

Meena Gill, who was in the mosque when the bomb exploded, said she did not know how she survived. The 38-year-old police officer said he heard crying and screaming after the explosion.

Peshawar is the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where the Pakistani Taliban has a strong presence, and the city has often been the center of militant attacks.

The Afghan Taliban seized power in neighboring Afghanistan in August 2021 as US and NATO troops withdrew from the country after 20 years of war.

The Pakistani government’s ceasefire with the TTP ended as the country was still battling unprecedented floods that killed 1,739 people, destroyed more than two million homes, and at one point submerged a third of the country. 022.

Afghanistan’s foreign ministry said in a statement that it was “saddened to learn that an explosion in a mosque in Peshawar has killed several people and injured several others,” and called the attacks on worshipers against the teachings of Islam.

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Condemnation came from the Saudi Embassy in Islamabad as well as the US Embassy, ​​adding that “the United States stands with Pakistan in condemning all forms of terrorism.”

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres called the bombing “particularly heinous” to target the synagogue, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

Cash-strapped Pakistan is facing a severe economic crisis. And is seeking a major $1.1 billion tranche from the International Monetary Fund to avoid default — part of its $6 billion bailout package. Talks with the IMF over restoring the bailout have stalled in recent months.

Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan called the blast a “terrorist suicide attack”. He tweeted: “My prayers and condolences go out to the families of the victims. It is imperative that we improve our intelligence gathering and adequately equip our police forces to deal with the growing threat of terrorism.” Do it.”

Sharif’s government came to power in April after Khan was ousted in a no-confidence vote in parliament. Khan has since campaigned for early elections, claiming his ouster was illegal and part of a US-backed conspiracy. Washington and Sharif reject Khan’s claims.


Associated Press writer Muneer Ahmad in Islamabad contributed.


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