32 ppl killed in blast inside Peshawar mosque


PESHAWAR: 32 people were killed and 147 were injured in a blast inside a mosque  in Peshawar’s Police Lines area on Monday. Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) spokesperson Mohammad Asim confirmed the number of casualties. He added that a number of injured persons were in critical condition.

The mosque’s imam, Sahibzada Noorul Amin, was killed in the blast, according to a list shared by the hospital.

Peshawar Commissioner Riaz Mehsood said a rescue operation was under way inside the mosque as a number of people were buried under the rubble.

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

Speaking to the media, Peshawar Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Muhammad Ijaz Khan said that the roof of the mosque collapsed after the blast. “A number of jawans are still stuck under the rubble and rescuers are trying to pull them out.”

He said the main hall of the mosque which had a capacity of 250 to 300 people had collapsed but the rest of the building was still intact.

In response to a question about the nature of the blast, the official said: “The smell of explosives has been detected but it is too early to say anything substantial.”

Khan said between 300 to 400 police personnel were present in the area at the time of the blast. “It is apparent that a security lapse occurred,” the CCPO told the media.

He added that the bodies and injured persons had been moved to the LRH.

Standing alongside Khan, KP Governor Haji Ghulam Ali condemned the blast and urged the people of Peshawar to donate blood for the injured, saying that it would be a “huge favour for the police”.

Former KP chief minister Mahmood Khan also called on PTI workers in Peshawar and adjoining areas to reach LRH to donate blood to the victims.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif called on PML-N workers to the nation to donate blood for those injured the blast, especially those with O negative blood group.

He called on the nation, students and party workers to reach LRH without any delay and play a role in saving precious lives.

Meanwhile, the official account for the PML-N said PM Shehbaz had arrived in Peshawar.

Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah, who is accompanying the prime minister, had earlier stated that Shehbaz would be briefed on all aspects of the blast. He said that PM Shehbaz would also visit the injured.

In a separate tweet, he said the blast would be investigated from all angles. He vowed that the Centre would fully facilitate the KP government.

In a statement issued later in the day, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif strongly condemned the blast and said that the attackers behind the incident “have nothing to do with Islam”.

“Terrorists want to create fear by targeting those who perform the duty of defending Pakistan,” he said.

The premier paid tribute to the martyrs and promised that their sacrifices would not be in vain. “The entire nation is standing united against the menace of terrorism.”

PM Shehbaz also said that a comprehensive strategy would 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.

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

A tweet by PPP’s media cell quoted Bilawal as saying that strict action would be taken against terrorists, their patrons and their facilitators.

Bilawal stressed that the National Action Plan was the only solution to the issue of terrorism and promised that it would be “implemented strictly”.

He also called party workers to donate their blood to save the lives of the injured.

PTI Chairman Imran Khan also strongly condemned the “terrorist suicide attack” in Peshawar and expressed sympathies with the families of the victims.

“It is imperative we improve our intelligence gathering and properly equip our police forces to combat the growing threat of terrorism,” he added.

Ex-human rights minister Shireen Mazari termed the bomber’s “access to a central area of the provincial capital” as another “intel failure”.

“Our police are frontline defenders against terrorists, especially in urban areas and need better resources, including equipment,” she added.

PTI’s Shibli Faraz condemned the attack but said the government had “failed to maintain security of its citizens”.

The US embassy in Islamabad extended its deepest condolences to the families of the victims. “The United States stands with Pakistan in condemning all forms of terrorism,” the mission said on Twitter.

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