28 killed, 150 injured in blast at Peshawar mosque (3rd Ld)

by IANS |

Peshawar, Jan 30 (IANS) At least 28 people were killed and 150 others injured after a blast ripped through a mosque in Pakistan's Peshawar city on Monday, according to officials.

Confirming the casualties, Peshawar Commissioner Riaz Mehsood said that a rescue operation was underway inside the mosque located in the city's Police Lines aea, Dawn news reported.

"An emergency has been imposed at hospitals across the city and injured persons are being provided the best medical facilities," the senior official said.

Meanwhile, Lady Reading Hospital spokesperson Mohammad Asim told Dawn news that injured persons were still being brought to the medical facility and some of them were in critical condition.

According to the Dawn news report, personnel of the police, army and bomb disposal squads were currently present inside the mosque.

It added that a portion of the mosque had collapsed and several people were believed to be trapped under it.

However, it remains unclear if the explosion was due to suicide bombing or if the bomb was planted inside the mosque.

So far, no group or individual have claimed responsibility for the attack.

In a statement, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif strongly condemned the blast and said that the attackers behind the incident "have nothing to do with Islam", Dawn news reported.

"Terrorists want to create fear by targeting those who perform the duty of defending Pakistan. The entire nation is standing united against the menace of terrorism."

The premier also said that a comprehensive strategy will be adopted to counter the deteriorating law and order situation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the federal government will help provinces in increasing their anti-terrorism capacity.

Also condemning the attack, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari said that "terrorist incidents before the local and general elections were meaningful".

Taking to Twitter, former Prime Minister Imran Khan said: "It is imperative we improve our intelligence gathering & properly equip our police forces to combat the growing threat of terrorism."

In the wake of the attack, Islamabad Inspector General Akbar Nasir Khan issued directions for a "security high-alert" to be placed in the capital.

The police in the capital said that security at all entry and exit points of the city has been increased and monitoring was being done through the "Safe City" system.

The police added that snipers had been placed at "important points and buildings" and the police were provided with thermal imaging facilities.

On March 4, 2022, 63 people were killed and 196 others injured during a suicide bombing inside a Shia mosque in Peshawar's Kocha Risaldar area.

The Islamic State terror group's Khorasan unit (IS-K) claimed responsibility for the attack.

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