On Monday, a suicide bomber blew himself up in a mosque inside a heavily guarded security compound in Pakistan, killing at least 47 people. This was the latest attack by resurgent Islamist militants targeting police in the volatile country. The “Red Zone” compound in Peshawar, a turbulent city in the country’s northwest, is home to police and counter-terrorism offices.
Police claimed the assailant appeared to have passed through many obstacles manned by security officers to enter the compound. Peshawar Police Chief Ijaz Khan told Reuters, “It was a suicide bombing,” He reported at least 47 fatalities and 176 injuries, many of them life-threatening.
It occurred the day before a team from the International Monetary Fund was scheduled to arrive in Islamabad to begin negotiations with the government in order to release funding for the South Asian economy, which is currently experiencing a balance of payment crisis. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has spoken out against the violence.
Reports state that the bomber triggered his device as hundreds of worshippers were in line to pray. Khan told reporters, “We have found traces of explosives,” indicating that the bomber had somehow made it past the most secure part of the compound. A probe was looking into whether or not the attacker had any help from within the elite security cordon.
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Khan claimed that as many as 400 worshippers were present at the mosque on that day, with the majority of the dead being police officers. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack, which is the deadliest in Peshawar since a suicide bombing in a Shi’ite mosque during Friday prayers in March 2022, when at least 58 people were killed.
Allah is the Greatest
As Defense Minister Khawaja Asif stated on Geo TV, the bomber was located in the very front row of worshippers. Mushtaq Khan, a police officer who was injured in the attack, told reporters from his hospital bed, “As the prayer leader said ‘Allah is the greatest, there was a big bang,”
“We couldn’t figure out what happened as the bang was deafening. It threw me out of the veranda. The walls and roof fell on me. Thanks to God, he saved me.”
Due to the explosion, the second floor of the mosque collapsed, burying dozens of worshippers beneath the ruins. Rescue workers were seen on live TV descending through the rubble to reach victims trapped on the roof. Haji Ghulam Ali, the governor of the province, remarked, “We can’t say how many are still under it,”
“The sheer scale of the human tragedy is unimaginable,” Sharif said.
“This is no less than an attack on Pakistan. The nation is overwhelmed by a deep sense of grief. I have no doubt terrorism is our foremost national security challenge.”
According to eyewitnesses, there was widespread chaos as police and rescuers frantically attempted to transport the injured to nearby hospitals. Sharif, who urged his party members to give blood at hospitals, stated that those who attack Muslims in the midst of their religious observances had nothing to do with Islam.
In a statement, the U.S. Embassy in Pakistan said,
“The U.S. mission in Pakistan expressed deepest condolences to the families and loved ones of the victims of the horrific attack,”
Peshawar, which lies on the border between Pakistan and Afghanistan’s Taliban-ruled tribal provinces, is routinely attacked by Islamic State and the Pakistani Taliban.
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