‘We are investigating the nature of the blast but it seemed to be a suicide attack’
At least 30 people are thought to have been killed and more than 50 injured after an explosion at a mosque in Pakistan.
The powerful blast occurred at a Kocha Risaldar, a Shiite Muslim mosque in the city of Peshawar, according to The Dawn newspaper and local police.
Officer Peshawar Ijaz Ahsan confirmed one police official was killed and another critically injured. Local media is reporting that 30 bodies had been brought to the hospital so far. It is thought that around 150 people were inside at the time.
According to initial reports, two attackers attempted to enter the mosque located within the city’s Qissa Khwani Bazaar and fired at the policemen standing guard. The explosion followed shortly after, during morning prayers on Friday.
Speaking to Reuters, another Capital City police officer, Mohammad Sajjad Khan, said: “We are in a state of emergency and the injured are being shifted to the hospital. We are investigating the nature of the blast but it seemed to be a suicide attack.”
قصہ خوانی بازار کے کوچہ رسالدار شیعہ جامع مسجد میں دو حملہ آور نے گھسنے کی کوشش کی
ڈیوٹی پر موجود پولیس اہلکاروں پر فائرنگ ہوئی ہے
فائرنگ سے ایک پولیس جوان شہید جبکہ دوسرا زخمی ہوا ہے جس کی حالت تشویشناک ہے
پولیس ٹیم پر حملہ کے بعد جامع مسجد میں دھماکہ ہوا ہے
— Capital City Police Peshawar (@PeshawarCCPO) March 4, 2022
Nearby witness, Shayan Haider, was about to enter the mosque when the explosion launched him back into the street. “I opened my eyes and there was dust and bodies everywhere,” he said.
While no group is yet to claim responsibility for the attack, both Islamic State and a violent Taliban group in Pakistan have been carrying out similar attacks in the region since late last year – namely around the border of neighbouring Afghanistan.
Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the bombing, citing the nation’s minority Shiite Muslims are being targeted: “What is our sin? What have we done? Aren’t we citizens of this country?”. The leader of the opposition, Shehbaz Sharif, issued a similarly impassioned plea:
Heart-wrenching terrorist incident in Peshawar in which so many precious lives have been lost. Words can't adequately condemn the sheer brutality. Terrorism continues to remain our foremost national challenge. Prayers & condolences are with the bereaved families!
— Shehbaz Sharif (@CMShehbaz) March 4, 2022
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