At least 32 people have been killed and more than 150 injured after a suicide bomber struck inside a mosque in Pakistan on Monday. The horrific attack took place in Peshawar's Police Lines area, according to reports. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing, with the death toll expected to rise.
Saddique Khan, a senior police official in Peshawar said that there were around 260 people inside the mosque when the suicide bomber detonated the bomb, according to Reuters. There were also a large number of police officers from the nearby police lines praying inside the mosque when the attack took place killing several worshippers immediately.
Although no one has claimed responsibility, officials believe it to be a terrorist attack. According to Saddique Khan, a top police official in Peshawar, the Pakistani Taliban have been blamed for similar suicide blasts in the past.
Around 260 people were praying inside the mosque when the bomber detonated his suicide vest. Many of them were police officers from adjacent police stations. According to Zafar Khan, a local police officer, the impact of the explosion caused the mosque's roof to collapse, which caused several injuries.
Meena Gul, a 38-year-old police officer who survived, claimed to have been at the mosque when the device detonated. He said he has no idea how he managed to escape unharmed. Gul claimed that after the device detonated, he could hear cries and screams.
Rescuers raced to clear the mosque's grounds of piles of trash so they could reach worshippers buried behind it, according to the police. There were concerns the death toll may grow, according to Khan, who stated that a number of the injured were in severe condition at a hospital.
Police chief Muhammad Ijaz Khan told AFP that the incident happened during afternoon prayers in Peshawar near Afghanistan.
"We have received dead bodies. It's an emergency situation," Muhammad Asim Khan, a spokesman for the main hospital in Peshawar said.
Chilling videos have emerged on social media that show bodies strewn inside the mosque as rescue workers and locals scrambled to carry the wounded out of the building.
Videos also show rescuers struggling to clear the debris on the mosque's grounds so that they could reach worshippers buried behind it. There are concerns the death toll may grow, according to Khan, who said that a number of the injured were in critical condition at various hospitals.
Shahbaz Sharif, the prime minister of Pakistan, issued a statement condemning the blast. He has ordered officials to provide the bombing victims with the finest medical care available. Additionally, he has threatened to take "stern action" against the perpetrators of the crime, according to the Associated Press.
Imran Khan, Pakistan's former prime minister, also denounced the blast and referred to it as a "terrorist suicide attack" in a Twitter post. "My prayers & condolences go to victims families," said Khan. "It is imperative we improve our intelligence gathering & properly equip our police forces to combat the growing threat of terrorism," he tweeted.
Peshawar, which borders Afghanistan and is the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, has seen a lot of militant strikes in the past.
The Afghan Taliban, also known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP, who took control of the neighboring country in August 2021 as the United States and NATO soldiers were preparing to leave after 20 years of conflict, are a separate organization but a close friend of the Pakistani Taliban.
The TTP has been waging an insurgency in Pakistan for the past 15 years, calling for more stringent enforcement of Islamic law there, the release of its detained members, and a reduction in Pakistani military involvement in the nation's former tribal areas.