PESHAWAR: At least 57 worshipers have lost their lives and almost 200 have been injured as a suicide bomb blew himself up during Friday prayers at a mosque in Pakistan’s north western city of Peshawar, police and rescue workers said.
The deadly attack occurred in the vicinity of Qissa Khwani bazaar in the Kocha Risaldar area.
The rescue teams are rushing the injured to Lady Reading Hospital, while residents and people of the neighbourhood are also helping in transporting the injured on their motorcycles and cars.
Police and security teams have cordoned off the area and started to collect evidence local media reported.
The condition of 10 injured people is critical, says the spokesperson of Lady Reading Hospital.
Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the deadly attack on the mosque and ordered efforts to provide immediate medical aid for the wounded.
The premier also sought a report on the blast from the authorities concerned.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, too, condemned the blast and sought a report from the KP inspector-general of police.
The chief minister instructed the rescue workers to speed up the rescue operation and ordered provincial cabinet members to monitor the operations.
Meanwhile, CM’s Special Assistant Barrister Saif confirmed that the explosion was a suicide attack. He said that the terrorists tried to enter the mosque and then engaged in an exchange of fire with the police upon failure.
However, one of the terrorists managed to enter the mosque and detonated the suicide jacket.
Suicide bomber blew himself up in front of pulpit: eyewitness
An eyewitness identified a person as dressed in black as the suicide bomber, saying he entered the mosque, shot and killed the security guard first and then fired five to six bullets.
“After that, he quickly entered the [mosque’s] main hall and blew himself up in front of the pulpit. Following this, there were bodies and injured people lying everywhere,” the eyewitness told local media
“The hall was filled with people; they were on the bottom and top floors; the incident took place at 12:55pm,” he said.
He said the people took the injured worshipers to the hospital via motorcycles as rescue workers faced hindrances, while arriving at the site due to congested alleys. The man claimed recently a hand grenade attack targeted a house in the area, after which residents had urged the authorities to beef up security. “But still, it did not happen the security has been reduced.”