At least 32 dead in the Pakistani city of Peshawar by an explosion in a mosque | International
An explosion inside a mosque in the city of Peshawar, in northwestern Pakistan, has killed at least 32 people and injured between 120 and 150 on Monday, according to various local sources. Most of the victims were police officers who had come to that place of worship for midday prayer. The mosque is located within a complex that also houses the provincial police headquarters and an anti-terrorism department, the city's police chief, Ijaz Jan, told Reuters.
According to the police, the explosion occurred in the second row of the faithful who had gathered there to pray. Bomb disposal teams are examining the possibility that it was an attack caused by a suicide bomber. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the explosion, which devastated the mosque and caused one of its walls to collapse. At the time of the event, there were at least 260 people inside the building, according to another police source, who confirmed to Reuters that there are still people under the rubble.
"Right now, our number one priority is to rescue those trapped under the rubble," Shaffiullah Khan, a senior official in the province of Khaiber Pashtunjuah, of which Peshawar is the capital, told Agence France Presse. A large rescue operation, led by firefighters with debris removal equipment, continued Monday to try to find survivors.
The Peshawar police headquarters, in whose complex the damaged mosque is located, is located in one of the most heavily guarded areas of the city and its perimeter is fortified. The police compound also houses the offices of several Pakistani intelligence agencies.
In March 2022, a suicide bombing taken over by the local branch of the Islamic State terrorist organization—Islamic State of Khorasan Province, or ISIS-K—killed 64 people at a Shiite mosque in Peshawar. That was the deadliest attack in Pakistan since 2018.
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According to the police, the suicide bomber was an Afghan citizen who had resided in Pakistan with his family for several years, and who had staged the attack in his native country. Located some 50 kilometers from the border with Afghanistan, Peshawar was the scene of almost daily attacks at the beginning of the last decade.
Although security in this city has improved remarkably in the current decade, in recent months, the city has suffered several attacks directed mainly against the security forces. Since the Taliban's takeover of neighboring Afghanistan on August 15, 2021, Pakistan has experienced a deteriorating security situation. The attacks have resumed, both by ISIS-K, as well as by Baloch separatist groups, and also by the Pakistani Taliban Tehrik-e-Taliban (TTP).
Pakistan now blames the Afghan Taliban, whom it has traditionally supported, for allowing these groups to use the territory of Afghanistan to plan their attacks, which Kabul has repeatedly denied. The TTP, a movement separate from the Afghan Taliban leadership but sharing common ideology and origins with it, has claimed responsibility for several attacks in recent months.
One of its worst atrocities, which has left an indelible mark on Pakistan's national consciousness, was the massacre of some 150 people, mostly students, in Peshawar in December 2014.
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