The death toll in the suicide bombing that tore through a mosque in Pakistan rose to 87 and left 157 injured on Tuesday, a hospital official said, a day after the one of the biggest attacks in the unstable South Asian nation.
Rescue operations are now underway in the mosque, which is situated inside a police compound and is mostly attended by law enforcement officials. Overnight, at least nine bodies were recovered as rescuers sifted through the rubble of the mosque’s collapsed wall and roof.
Bomber detonated suicide vest during prayer
The attack happened on Monday during afternoon worship in the provincial capital of Peshawar, close to areas along the Afghan border where militancy has been steadily rising. The bomber detonated his suicide vest as a large number of worshipers – including many policemen from nearby police offices – were praying inside.
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Local police officer Zafar Khan said the impact of the explosion caused the roof of the mosque to cave in, injuring dozens.
“This morning we are going to remove the last part of the collapsed roof so we can recover more bodies, but we are not hopeful of reaching any survivors,” Bilal Ahmad Faizi, a spokesperson for the rescue organisation 1122, told AFP.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing in Peshawar, the capital of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan, local police said. However, later conflicting accounts emerged about who was behind the attack.
Taliban denies responsibility
A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, known as Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP), Muhammad Khorasani, has denied any involvement in the attack while many reports have named the organisation. The Pakistani Taliban is usually suspected of such attacks in the country, after claiming similar bombings in the past.
Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif condemned the bombing in a statement, before ordering authorities to ensure the best possible medical treatment for the victims.
He also vowed “stern action” against the perpetrators.
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