Pakistan mosque suicide bombing kills 32, police target

  • An explosion occurred in a mosque during prayer
  • Most of the victims are police officers
  • So far, no group has claimed responsibility for the blast

PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Jan 30 (Reuters) – A suicide bombing at a crowded mosque in Pakistan’s Peshawar killed at least 32 people on Monday, the latest attack targeting police in this northwestern city where Islamist militants continue to operate.

Hospital officials said at least 147 people were injured, many in critical condition.

Prime Minister Shebaz Sharif called the blast a suicide attack. At least 260 people were inside the mosque, police official Sikandar Khan added.

No one has claimed responsibility for the bombing, which tore through the mosque during noon prayer, causing a wall to collapse on worshippers. The building is located in a heavily fortified complex that includes the headquarters of the provincial police and the counter-terrorism unit.

“We get that the terrorist was standing in the front row,” Defense Minister Khawaja Asif told Geo TV.

Footage from state broadcaster PTV showed police and residents struggling to clear debris from the blast site and carrying injured people on their shoulders.

The attack was the worst in the city since March last year, when a suicide bombing at a Shiite Muslim mosque during Friday prayers killed at least 58 people and wounded nearly 200. Islamic state extremists claimed responsibility for the attack.

Peshwar, which lies on the edge of Pakistan’s tribal areas bordering Afghanistan, is a frequent target of armed groups, including the Pakistani Taliban.

The group, known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), is an umbrella of Sunni and sectarian Islamist groups that want to overthrow the government and replace it with their own brand of Islamic rule.

The TTP has stepped up attacks since ending a so-called peace deal last year with the Pakistani government that was facilitated by the Afghan Taliban.

The TTP has staged frequent attacks on the police over the past few months. In December, Islamist militants seized a counterterrorism center in the country’s northwest and took hostages to negotiate with government officials.

Reporting by Jibran Ahmad in Peshawar, written by Shilpa Jamkhandikar; editing by Miral Fami, Simon Cameron-Moore and Bernadette Baum

Our standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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