ISLAMABAD (AA) – The death toll from Monday’s suicide bombing at a mosque inside a police headquarters in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar has risen to 95, with police announcing the completion of an intense rescue operation.
Moazzam Jah Ansari, the police chief of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, of which Peshawar is the capital, told a press conference that a total of 95 people were killed and 221 injured in Monday’s attack.
Announcing the completion of the rescue operation, Ansari said that a search for any possible survivor or dead will, nonetheless, continue.
According to the initial investigations, he further said, 10-12 kilograms of explosive material was used in the bombing.
Shafi Ullah, the deputy commissioner of Peshawar, confirmed the increase in casualties and told reporters that 57 injured people remain hospitalized, 10 of whom are in critical condition.
Nearly 100 injured have been discharged from the hospital, he added.
On Monday, a suspected suicide bomber blew himself up during midday prayers at the mosque within the Police Headquarters in Peshawar.
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a conglomerate of several militant groups, has denied involvement in the attack on its propaganda website.
Commenting on the responsibility claims and denials by different militant groups, Ansari said, “The police don’t believe in such exaggerated claims until proved by investigations.”
He contended that Jamat-ul-Ahrar, a splinter faction of the TTP, could be involved in the bombing.
“The ISKP (Islamic State Khyber Pakhtunkhwa) has also claimed responsibility for the attack, which we are investigating,” he said.
According to city police chief Muhammad Ijaz Khan, the attack was a suicide bombing as police recovered the head of the bomber from the spot.
Several people were buried under the debris after most parts of the mosque building collapsed, so the rescue operation continued through the night.
The deceased included several senior police officers and the prayer leader.
“As soon as the imam (prayer leader) began praying, there was a deafening explosion, which tossed me into the air and threw me away,” Mohammad Mushtaq, a police officer who got injured in the blast, told reporters at the hospital.
In neighboring Afghanistan, the Taliban administration condemned the bombing, calling it “against the teachings of Islam.”
In a statement, the acting Afghan Foreign Ministry also expressed sympathy to the families of the deceased and injured.
Longtime rival India also extended its “deep” condolences to the families of the victims of the terrorist attack.
“We strongly condemn this attack, which has taken the lives of so many people,” Indian Ministry of External Affairs spokesman Arindam Bagchi said in a tweet.
4 militants killed
Four militants were killed in two separate operations by security forces in the districts of Swabi and Dera Ismail Khan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on Monday.
According to police, a joint operation was carried out after the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD), police, and intelligence agencies received information about the presence of militants in Hind village in Swabi.
The militants opened fire on security forces and police. Two of them blew themselves up and the third surrendered, they said, adding that two police officers were also injured during the operation.
Separately, two militants were killed in the Dera Ismail Khan district during an encounter with security forces in the Loni area.
A search operation was conducted in the area based on a tip-off about the presence of terrorists, the local Dawn newspaper reported citing unnamed sources.