The number of victims of the explosion in a Pakistani mosque has exceeded 100: the police told how the terrorist carried the bomb - ForumDaily
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The number of victims of the explosion in the Pakistani mosque has exceeded 100: the police told how the terrorist carried the bomb

Pakistani officials believe serious security gaps allowed a suicide bomber to detonate the mosque. Death toll from explosion rises to 100 AP.

Photo: IStock

On January 31, Pakistani authorities tried to find out how a suicide bomber managed to carry out one of the deadliest militant attacks in the country in years. The attack took place on the territory of a heavily guarded police station in the city of Peshawar.

An explosion on January 30 in the morning, injuring at least 225 people, raised the alarm of officials in connection with a serious breach of security. The horrific incident comes as the Pakistani Taliban, the main anti-government paramilitary group, have stepped up attacks, especially against the police and military.

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Who carried out the explosion is unclear. A Pakistani Taliban commander claimed responsibility for the attack, but a spokesman for the group later said attacks on mosques were not part of their policy.

More than 300 worshipers were praying at a Sunni mosque when a suicide bomber detonated an explosive vest, officials said. According to police officer Zafar Khan, part of the roof was blown off by the blast and what was left collapsed, injuring many people.

Rescuers worked through the night and into the morning of January 31, removing piles of rubble to reach the faithful who were still trapped in the rubble. According to Mohammad Asim, a spokesman for a public hospital in Peshawar, the death toll has risen as more bodies have been found and several seriously injured people have died.

Most of the victims are police officers, he said.

The counter-terrorism police are investigating how the terrorist managed to get to the mosque, which is located inside a walled police headquarters complex called Police Lines. The complex is located in a protected area of ​​Peshawar, where there are other government buildings.

“Yes, it was a breach of security,” said Ghulam Ali, governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, of which Peshawar is the capital.

Akhtar Ali Shah, a former regional interior minister who once served in Peshawar, said the "attack was not spontaneous."

"It was the work of a well-organized group," he told The Associated Press. He said those behind the attack must have had inside help to gain access to the compound, and probably went in several times for reconnaissance or even to plant explosives ahead of time.

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“This is not an oversight, this is a security breach,” he said. “Multiple layers of security with identity verification must be completed at all entry points.”

Talat Masood, a retired army general and senior security analyst, said the suicide bombing was indicative of "negligence."

“When we know that the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan is active and when we know they have threatened to carry out attacks, there should have been more security checks at the police station in Peshawar,” he said.

Kamran Bangash, provincial secretary general from the opposition Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf party, called for an investigation and blamed the instability on Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif's government.

The government "has failed to improve the economy and the rule of law, and it must step down to pave the way for early parliamentary elections," he said. Party leader, former Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the attack.

The attack comes at a time when Pakistan is grappling with a political and economic crisis due to disputed elections and unprecedented flooding last summer. The floods killed 1739 people, destroyed more than 2 million homes, and at one point flooded a third of the country.

Sharif visited a hospital in Peshawar after the explosion and promised "strong measures" against those behind the attack. On January 31, he rejected criticism of his government and called for unity. “My message to all political forces is unity against anti-Pakistani elements. We can have our political disputes later,” he tweeted.

Shortly after the bombing, Pakistani Taliban commander Sarbakaf Mohmand claimed responsibility for the attack in a Twitter post.

But a few hours later, Taliban spokesman Mohammad Khurasani stated that it was not the group's policy to strike mosques, seminaries and places of worship, and that those who take part in such actions could be subject to punitive measures in accordance with the group's policy. His statement did not say why Mohmand claimed responsibility for the explosion.

Pakistan, which is predominantly Sunni Muslim, has experienced a surge in militant attacks since November as the Pakistani Taliban ended a truce with government forces.

The Pakistani Taliban are the dominant militant group in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, and Peshawar has been the scene of frequent attacks. In 2014, the Pakistani Taliban attacked a military school in Peshawar and killed 154 people, mostly schoolchildren.

But the Islamic State in Khorasan province, a regional branch of the Islamic State and rival of the Taliban, has also been behind deadly attacks in Pakistan in recent years. In general, violence intensified after the Afghan Taliban seized power in neighboring Afghanistan in August 2021, when US and NATO troops were withdrawn from the country after 20 years of war.

Earlier this month, the Pakistani Taliban said one of their members shot and killed two intelligence officers, including the director of the counter-terrorism wing of the Inter-Services Intelligence intelligence agency. Security officials said January 31 that the militant was killed in a shootout near the Afghan border.

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The Taliban-run Afghan Foreign Ministry said it was "saddened by the news that many people have lost their lives" in Peshawar and condemned the attacks on worshipers as contrary to the teachings of Islam.

US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, who is visiting the Middle East, tweeted his condolences, calling the Peshawar bombing a "terrible attack."

“Terrorism for any reason anywhere is unforgivable,” he said.

As ForumDaily wrote earlier:

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