pakistan: Suicide bombing kills 60 Friday worshippers in Peshawar mosque, 200 wounded

ISLAMABAD: At least 60 worshippers were killed and nearly 200 wounded on Friday after a suicide bomber detonated explosives inside a mosque in a Shia neighbourhood in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar.
The blast ripped through Kucha Risaldar mosque in Peshawar’s old city area of Qissa Khwani when people from the minority Shi’ite community gathered for the Friday prayers.
An eyewitness said the suicide bomber dressed in black shalwar kameez entered the mosque and started firing, killing a man who tried to stop him. Immediately after, the witness said, the assailant blew himself up inside the prayer hall in front of the pulpit. “After the blast, there was smoke, dust, bodies and wounded people everywhere.”
According to the bomb disposal squad, 5kg of explosives and ball bearings were used.
City police chief Muhammad Ijaz Khan said two armed attackers came to the mosque on a motorcycle and fired at cops when they were stopped for a search. “A policeman and an attacker were killed in the gunfight. Another policeman was wounded. The second attacker entered the mosque and blew himself up,” Khan said. But CCTV footage showed a lone attacker armed with a pistol attacking the cops outside the main entrance and then running inside the mosque.
“There were two attackers, but only one was a suicide bomber,” said senior police officer Haroon Rasheed, corroborating the police chief amid confusion about the number of terrorists involved in the attack. He said two cops died.
The death count could rise as Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) spokesperson Mohammad Asim said around 35 people were gravely wounded. He confirmed that about 60 bodies and 200 wounded men were brought to the hospital, nearest to the site, but the rescue effort was slowed down by the locality’s congested narrow streets.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, but Pakistan’s Shia community was frequently targeted in the past by Sunni Islamist terrorist groups, including the Islamic State and the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
PM Imran Khan condemned the bombing, while interior minister Sheikh Rasheed termed it a conspiracy to destabilise Pakistan. “Some foreign forces are trying to ruin the peace in Pakistan,” he said.
Pakistan saw a spike in violence in recent months, especially after the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. Dozens of military personnel have been killed in attacks on army outposts in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Balochistan provinces along the border with Afghanistan.

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