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Terrorism

Mosque bombed in northwest Pakistan, at least 58 killed

Published: Updated:

A suicide bombing at a Shia mosque during Friday prayers in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar killed at least 58 people and injured nearly 200, hospital officials said.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the bombing in a statement, which would make it one of the biggest attacks carried out by the group inside Pakistan.

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An armed man who arrived near the mosque on a motorcycle opened fire when he was stopped by police, before forcing his way into a crowded hall and detonating his suicide vest, senior police official Haroon Rasheed said.

The attacker first shot at the police guards at the mosque’s entrance, killing one of them, he said. “The armed man entered the mosque and started firing on the worshippers and finally blew himself up,” Rasheed added.

People move an injured on a stretcher after a bomb blast in a mosque during Friday prayers, at a hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan, March 4, 2022. (Reuters)
People move an injured on a stretcher after a bomb blast in a mosque during Friday prayers, at a hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan, March 4, 2022. (Reuters)

Previously, police had said they were two men on the motorcycle.

The attack is one of the deadliest in years on Pakistan’s Shia Islam-following minority, which has long been targeted by extremists, including ISIS and Pakistan’s Taliban.

The Pakistani Taliban distanced themselves from the attack in a message sent to Reuters.

Many of the injured were in critical condition, officials at the nearby Lady Reading Hospital said, updating the previous toll.

Sardar Hussain, who lost three relatives in the blast, said the mosque was the only place of worship for the Shia Islam community in Peshawar’s old city.

Attacks by extermists had become an almost daily occurrence in Pakistan until the military launched a crackdown on militants in 2014.

Shooting and explosion

Worshippers at the mosque in Peshawar had gathered for Friday prayers, when congregations are usually the largest.

“Panic spread among the worshippers when the firing started. I ran to save my life,” one man, who did not give his name, told Reuters at a hospital where he was being treated for his injuries.

“Suddenly a man came in and started firing... He shot many people (and) then closed his eyes and blew himself up. After that, I have no idea what happened,” he said.

Relatives of the victims comfort each other after a bomb blast in a mosque during Friday prayers in Peshawar, Pakistan, March 4, 2022. (Reuters)
Relatives of the victims comfort each other after a bomb blast in a mosque during Friday prayers in Peshawar, Pakistan, March 4, 2022. (Reuters)

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the bombing, according to his office.

The attack comes as the Australian cricket team are touring Pakistan for the first time in over two decades and staying in Islamabad, 140 kilometers (87 miles) from Peshawar.

Pakistan recently started hosting international teams again after security concerns forced them to shift many of their high-profile international events to the UAE.

Following the blast, the Australian cricket coach Andrew McDonald said the team touring Pakistan will be guided by security experts.

People move an injured on a stretcher, after a bomb blast in a mosque during Friday prayers, at a hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan, March 4, 2022. (Reuters)
People move an injured on a stretcher, after a bomb blast in a mosque during Friday prayers, at a hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan, March 4, 2022. (Reuters)

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