An explosion in the police lines area of Peshawar in Pakistan killed at least 28 individuals and injured more than 150 others on Monday.
It was reported that around 260 individuals were inside the mosque at the time of the explosion. The mosque was located near a police housing unit. Peshawar’s commissioner, Riaz Mehsood, has confirmed the deaths and said that rescue workers are currently working inside the mosque. The senior official stated, “An emergency has been imposed at hospitals across the city, and injured persons are being provided the best medical facilities.”
The blast happened during Zuhr prayer time (1:40 p.m.) near the Police Lines neighborhood. “It happened during prayers. A two-storey building has collapsed,” an eyewitness told the local news channel, Geo TV. He added that he was outside the mosque when the explosion occurred.
Officials have reported that they have begun transporting the injured to Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar.
“We received 19 dead and over 90 injured from the Peshawar Police Lines blast,” a spokesman for the city’s Lady Reading Hospital, Mohammad Asim stated. “Many others are in critical condition,” he added. Police believe that further victims are still trapped under the rubble.
Peshawar Capital Police Officer (CCPO) Muhammad Ijaz Khan remarked, “The smell of explosives has been detected but it is too early to say anything substantial.” According to Khan, there were between 300-400 police officers in the neighborhood at the time of the explosion. “It is apparent that a security lapse occurred,” the CCPO added.
Stricter security alert is set
After the explosion, the police shut down the roads that led to the Red Zone. A state of emergency has been declared and the region has been sealed off. It’s still not known if a suicide bomber attacked or planted the explosives in the mosque. No group or individual has taken responsibility for this attack as of yet.
Later that day, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif released a statement in which he condemned the explosion and claimed that those responsible “have nothing to do with Islam.” “Terrorists want to create fear by targeting those who perform the duty of defending Pakistan,” he claimed.
While condemning the attack, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari remarked that “terrorist incidents before the local and general elections were meaningful.” Bilawal said the National Action Plan “will be implemented strictly” since it is the only way to combat terrorism.
In the meantime, Shireen Mazari, a former minister for human rights, has called the bomber’s “access to a central area of the provincial capital” a “intel failure.”
The Islamabad Police Department tweeted that the “Safe City” system is being used to increase security at all city entrances and exits. Also, snipers have been stationed at “important points and buildings,” and thermal imaging equipment is made available to the police, as stated by the authorities.
A suicide bombing inside a Shia mosque in Peshawar’s Kocha Risaldar neighborhood last year was the city’s most recent major incident of this kind.