34 Killed, 125 Injured in Deadly Peshawar Mosque Explosion
On Monday, a deadly explosion occurred inside a mosque in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. The blast, which was likely a suicide attack, left at least 34 people dead and 125 injured, according to Peshawar Deputy Commissioner Shafiullah Khan.
The blast occurred in the main hall of the mosque, just as afternoon prayers were about to begin, and caved in the roof and one wall of the mosque. More than 150 people were reportedly packed tightly inside when the suicide bomber struck.
Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned the blast and said in a statement that those behind the incident “have nothing to do with Islam” and that “the brutal killing of Muslims prostrating before Allah is against the teachings of the Quran.” He added that “targeting the House of Allah is proof that the attackers have nothing to do with Islam” and that “the entire nation and institutions are united to end terrorism”.
Pakistan's former leader Imran Khan, whose party the Pakistan Tehreek e Insaaf holds the provincial government of Khyber Pakhtunkwa, also condemned the blast, saying in a tweet that “it is imperative we improve our intelligence gathering & properly equip our police forces to combat the growing threat of terrorism.”
At a press conference, Pakistan's interior minister reported that initial investigations indicated that the blast was the result of a suicide bombing. Government and security personnel confirmed that the blast was caused by a suicide bomber; however, no one assumed accountability for the incident straight away.
Peshawar is the capital of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan and has been the scene of frequent militant attacks since November, when the Pakistani Taliban ended their cease-fire with government forces. Officials reported that people are believed to be trapped beneath the debris after a portion of the structure was demolished. Most of the people who died were part of the police force, who are believed to be the target of the attack.
Survivor Meena Gul, a 38-year-old police officer, said he was inside the mosque when the bomb went off and could hear cries and screams after the explosion. With the death toll from the blast rising, it is essential that improved intelligence gathering and security for police forces be implemented in order to combat the growing threat of terrorism.
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