The explosion occurred in the central hall of the mosque leading to roof of the place of worship crashing down when devotees were offering prayers on Monday…reports Asian Lite News
With the recovery of more bodies on Tuesday, the death toll in the suicide bombing in a mosque in Police Lines in Peshawar mounted to 83.
The explosion occurred in the central hall of the mosque leading to roof of the place of worship crashing down when devotees were offering prayers on Monday, Geo News quoted police as saying.
The outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), which late last year called off its ceasefire with the government and carried out a series of attacks, including in a Peshawar police station in December, has taken responsibility for the blast.
A TTP commander Sarbakaf Mohmand has claimed the responsibility for the attack in a post on Twitter.
According to security officials, the suicide attacker was present in the front row during the Zuhr prayers when he detonated the explosives, Geo News reported.
Imam Sahibzada Noor ul Amin was also killed in the blast, police said.
The blast also brought down the mosque’s roof, trapping many under the debris and rescue operations were on to extricate them.
Local media quoted an eyewitness, who was going to the mosque when the explosion took place, as saying that it was “a powerful explosion” and “there was smoke everywhere”.
“There were at least 120 people in the mosque when the incident took place. It was a suicide blast because the bomber was inside the mosque’s inner courtyard. The Zuhr prayer had just started when it happened. There were mostly policemen among the injured,” the eyewitness said, adding that he later saw that the mosque’s roof had collapsed.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif, accompanied by top ministers including Defence Minister Khwaja Asif and Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, has reached Peshawar where he was briefed by officials and visited the injured in hospitals. Chief of Army Staff, General Syed Asim Munir, has also reached the provincial capital, and accompanied the Prime Minister.
Asif told Geo News that the roof fell due to the intensity of blast, and the city’s hospitals have been overwhelmed.
He said that the police have been targeted, emphasising that the machinery that controlled terrorism before needs to be activated again.
The attack was condemned by top leaders of the country. President Dr Arif Alvi deemed the attack “heinous and cowardly”, and asserted that the perpetrators would be found and punished.
PM Shehbaz Sharif said that the blast inside a mosque proves that those involved in the attack have “nothing to do with Islam”.
“These terrorists are trying to instil fear by targeting those who perform the duty of defending Pakistan,” he said, assuring the people that the coalition government will take strict action against those involved.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, condemning the incident, said that strict action will be taken against the terrorists, their backers and facilitators.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan also took to Twitter to condemn the suicide attack.
“My prayers and condolences go to victims families. It is imperative we improve our intelligence gathering and properly equip our police forces to combat the growing threat of terrorism,” said Khan.