Friday, March 04, 2022
PESHAWAR: At least 57 worshipers have lost their lives, while close to 200 have been injured in a suicide bomb attack during Friday prayers at a mosque in Qissa Khwani bazaar in the Kocha Risaldar area of Peshawar on Friday, police and rescue workers told.
The rescue teams have rushed the injured to Lady Reading Hospital, while residents and people of the neighbourhood also helped in transporting the injured on their motorcycles and cars.
Prime Minister Imran Khan, Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shahbaz Sharif, Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed, and other political leaders condemned the blast.
Police and security teams have cordoned off the area and started to collect evidence.
Inspector-General of Police Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Moazzam Jah Ansari, while speaking to journalists at the site of the incident, said that a hawaldar and a police constable were on duty outside the mosque.
"The terrorist was alone and had come to the mosque on foot," he said.
"He targeted the two police personnel stationed at the mosque. One of them embraced martyrdom, while the other sustained injuries."
Ansari added that the terrorist, after targetting the policemen, ran towards the mosque.
"The terrorist first opened fire at the worshippers after entering the mosque and then blew himself up," the IG said, adding that about 150 ball-bearings were recovered from the site of the incident.
Providing further details, Ansari said that about five to six kilogrammes of explosives were used in the blast, which took place in the third row of the mosque.
"The terrorist had worn a black outfit on purpose to conceal the explosives, Ansari said, adding that the police had an idea about a terrorist group.
"We will arrest the culprits soon," he said.
In a statement to the media, Advisor to KP Chief Minister Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif confirmed that the explosion took place during Friday prayers.
“Reportedly the terrorists first tried to enter the mosque where they exchanged fire with the police,” said Barrister Saif.
He said that a terrorist managed to enter the mosque and carried out the attack.
An eyewitness identified a person dressed in black as the suicide bomber, saying he entered the mosque, shot and killed the security guard first, and then fired five to six bullets.
"After that, he quickly entered the [mosque's] main hall and blew himself up in front of the pulpit. Following this, there were bodies and injured people lying everywhere," the eyewitness told Geo News.
"The hall was filled with people; they were on the bottom and top floors; the incident took place at 12:55pm," he said.
He said people took the injured worshipers to the hospital on motorcycles as rescue workers faced hindrances while arriving at the site due to congested alleys.
The man claimed recently a hand grenade attack targeted a house in the area, after which residents had urged the authorities to beef up security. "But still, it did not happen [...] the security has been reduced."
Reacting to the blast, Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed Ahmad said that there was no threat alert issued for the attack.
Rasheed termed the attack "a bid to destabilise Pakistan under a planned conspiracy."
He said that some foreign forces are trying to ruin the peace in Pakistan.
Taking to Twitter, he condemned the attack and expressed solidarity with the families of the deceased and injured.
He said that he has sought a report from the IGP KP.
Moreover, Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Quddus Bizenjo also issued a statement. "We stand with the aggrieved families. The sacrifices of the nation and security agencies are unforgettable," he said.
Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the deadly attack on the mosque and ordered efforts to provide immediate medical aid for the wounded.
The premier also sought a report on the blast from the authorities concerned.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, too, condemned the blast and sought a report from the KP inspector-general of police.
The chief minister instructed the rescue workers to speed up the rescue operation and ordered provincial cabinet members to monitor the operations.
Former president of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari, PML-N Vice President Maryam Nawaz, JUI-F President Maulana Fazlur Rehman we’re among the others who condemned the unfortunate incident.
"Terrorists are the enemy of the country and nation, which have to be crushed," Zardari said while praying for the quick recovery of the injured.
Fazl, in his condolence message, demanded immediate medical aid for the wounded.
Balochistan Chief Minister Abdul Quddus Bizenjo also issued a statement. "We stand with the aggrieved families. The sacrifices of the nation and security agencies are unforgettable," he said.