The death toll in an attack on a mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan, rose to more than 90 this Tuesday (31), a day after the incident – there are still at least 170 injured. The attack, carried out by a suicide bomber, caused part of the building to collapse and bury many of the approximately 300 to 400 people present at the time of the explosion.
Emergency crews continued to sift through the rubble in search of bodies through the early hours of the morning. 1122 rescue organization spokesman Bilal Ahmad Faizi said his team would remove the last part of the collapsed roof on Tuesday and thus complete the task. He said, however, that there is no expectation of finding survivors.
The mosque was housed in a complex in Peshawar that houses several official buildings, including the headquarters of the police and the counterterrorism department. According to the authorities, more than 90% of the victims were police officers – they were gathered for the traditional midday prayers for Muslims.
This Tuesday, 20 of the agents were buried after a religious ceremony. The coffins were lined up and draped with the Pakistani flag.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack so far. A Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) commander, known as the Pakistani Taliban, even claimed responsibility for him initially. Hours later, however, a spokesman for the group denied involvement in the explosion, claiming that TTP policy does not provide for attacks on mosques and other places of worship.
The group, made up of radicals who want to replace the current government with a hardline Islamic regime, has carried out increasing attacks since it ended a sort of peace deal facilitated by the Afghan Taliban last year.
It is the second attack on a mosque in Peshawar in less than a year – the city, which straddles the autonomous tribal areas on the border with Afghanistan, is a frequent target of militants. In March last year, EI-K, the local branch of the Islamic State terrorist group, claimed responsibility for a suicide attack that left 64 dead, the most serious recorded in Pakistan since 2018.
The country has faced a worsening security situation since the Taliban regained power in Afghanistan in August 2021. After this Monday’s attack, the Pakistani government declared high alert across the country, assigning snipers to protect several buildings and hotspots in Islamabad.
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