South Asia

Death toll in Peshawar mosque bombing rises to 48

A massive suicide bombing in Peshawar’s Police Lines area has killed at least 32 people and wounded a further 147, officials told Pakistan’s Geo News on Monday evening, adding that the toll could rise as people were still buried under the rubble.

The explosion happened during afternoon prayers and brought down a section of the mosque. Officials have said the bomber had been in the front row during prayers.

According to Geo News, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility for the attack, which also claimed the life of

Sahibzada Noor Ul Amin, the Imam of the mosque.

The Prime Minister’s office said in a series of tweets late Monday that Shehbaz Sharif was on his way to Peshawar “where he will be briefed on all aspects about the blast.”

The prime minister will also visit the injured. Earlier, Sharif appealed to the public to donate blood for the victims.

The Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar, which has taken in the victims, has also appealed for blood.

Pakistan’s media are meanwhile also reporting that a large number of security forces were at the mosque at the time of the explosion. But Capital City Police Officer Peshawar (CCPO) Ejaz Khan told Geo News it was too early to give numbers as many policemen were still trapped under the rubble.

“We are currently focused on the rescue operation,” he said, adding that headquarters of the Peshawar Police, Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD), Frontier Reserve Police (FRP), Elite Force and telecommunications department are all located near the blast site.

The caretaker chief minister for Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) Muhammad Azam Khan and the provincial health department declared a medical emergency in Peshawar and instructed rescue organizations to speed up relief activities.

The President of the Civil Secretariat Association Peshawar Tassavur Iqbal, who regularly prays at the mosque, told Geo News that the Police Lines area was tightly controlled by security.

“This is an unfortunate incident that took place here today. This is a big mosque and 400-500 people can offer prayers at a time. We are hearing that the building collapsed after the blast,” said Iqbal. 

Islamabad on alert

Geo News has also reported that the Inspector General of Islamabad Dr Akbar Nasir Khan issued orders on Monday afternoon to put security on high alert in the federal capital and “snipers have been deployed at important ports and buildings”.