A terrorist attack on a mosque in Pakistan has led to the deaths of more than 60 people and many more injured, according to the latest reports.
On Monday, a terrorist detonated his suicide vest inside a mosque in the Peshawar region of Pakistan. Hundreds of worshippers were caught in the blast which caused the roof to collapse.
Responsibility for the attack has not yet been ascertained. There has been speculation that the Pakistani Taliban were behind the attack but a spokesman for the group denied that they were responsible.
Terrorist targets Pakistan mosque
Peshawar Police Chief Mohammad Aijaz Khan has said that 61 people were killed in the blast with a further 157 injured. Rescue operations led by security personnel and first responders have been conducted in order to find survivors and care for the wounded.
The mosque is located within a Pakistani police compound. According to Khan, between 300 and 400 police personnel were present in the compound when the explosion was set off. At least 27 of the dead were police officials, according to Reuters. “It is apparent that a security lapse occurred,” he told the media.
Both Khan and Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif have said that the incident was “probably a suicide attack.”
Of the 157 injured people, at least 90 of them are being treated at the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar. Mohammad Asim, a spokesperson for the hospital, said that about 15 of the injured people are in critical condition.
It is unclear who was responsible for the attack and what motivated them. The Pakistani Taliban, also known as Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) explicitly denied being responsible for the incident.
“Regarding the Peshawar incident, we consider it necessary to clarify that Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan has nothing to do with this incident. According to our laws and general constitution, any action in mosques, madrasas, funerals grounds and other sacred places is an offense,” said Muhammad Khorasani, a spokesperson for the TTP.
Earlier, however, TTP officials Sarbakaf Mohmand and Omar Mukaram Khurasani claimed that the attack was “revenge” for the death of TTP militant Khalid Khorasani in 2022.
The TTP is designated as a terrorist group by the US and other Western states. It shares many ideological similarities with the Afghan Taliban and the two groups have cooperated extensively. However, they do not share the same command structure or organization.
“Just returned from Peshawar. The sheer scale of the human tragedy is unimaginable. This is no less than an attack on Pakistan,” said Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Twitter. “The nation is overwhelmed by a deep sense of grief. I have no doubt terrorism is our foremost national security challenge.”
Just returned from Peshawar. The sheer scale of the human tragedy is unimaginable. This is no less than an attack on Pakistan. The nation is overwhelmed by a deep sense of grief. I have no doubt terrorism is our foremost national security challenge.
— Shehbaz Sharif (@CMShehbaz) January 30, 2023
Former prime minister Imran Khan also commented on the incident. “My prayers & condolences go to victims’ families,” he said, “It is imperative we improve our intelligence gathering & properly equip our police forces to combat the growing threat of terrorism.”
Support and condolences have also been expressed by foreign dignitaries and diplomatic institutions.
“The U.S. Mission to Pakistan extends its deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims of the horrific attack at a Police Lines mosque in Peshawar on January 30. The United States stands with Pakistan in condemning all forms of terrorism,” the US Embassy in Islamabad tweeted.
The U.S. Mission to Pakistan extends its deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims of the horrific attack at a Police Lines mosque in Peshawar on January 30. The United States stands with Pakistan in condemning all forms of terrorism.
— U.S. Embassy Islamabad (@usembislamabad) January 30, 2023