Pakistan mosque bombing: Dozens dead, scores injured as suicide bomber targets police in Peshawar

Pakistan Mosque Bombing
Workers transport a victim of a suicide bombing upon arrival at a hospital in Peshawar, Pakistan, January 30, 2023.

Muhammad Sajjad/AP

You are reading: Pakistan mosque bombing: Dozens dead, scores injured as suicide bomber targets police in Peshawar

Peshawar, Pakistan — A suicide bomber struck on Monday inside a mosque in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar, killing almost 30 people and wounding scores more, officials said. The bomber detonated his suicide vest as worshipers — including many police and other security forces — were praying inside. 

CBS News’ Maria Usman said at least 28 people were killed and 150 injured by the explosion, which came during early afternoon prayers at a mosque in Peshawar’s “Police Lines” area, a highly secured zone where the regional Police Secretariat is located, along with apartments housing officers and other security staff. 

The casualty figures were confirmed by Peshawar Commissioner Riaz Mehsood, an administrative official in the city, who added that a rescue operation was underway. The death toll was expected to increase as many of the injured were taken away in critical condition. 

A senior superintendent of the Peshawar Police told CBS News the entire roof of the mosque had caved in, and the mosque was likely full as it was the first day of the working week.

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No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing in Peshawar, the capital of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan, but as CBS News’ Sami Yousafzai reports, the Tehreek-e-Taliban-e-Pakistan terror group, the Pakistani Taliban commonly known by the abbreviation TTP, recently broke off peace talks with the country’s government and relaunched military operations against state security forces.

The Pakistani group is believed to have gained strength over the last couple years, since the Afghan Taliban retook control of the neighboring country in August 2021.  The TTP are a separate group to the Afghan Taliban, but they are close allies. 

The Pakistani group has waged an insurgency in Pakistan for 15 years, fighting for stricter enforcement of Islamic laws in the country, the release of their members who are in government custody and a reduction of Pakistani military presence in the country’s former tribal regions.  

Pakistan Mosque Bombing
Police officers clear the way for ambulances carrying victims of a bomb attack on a mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan, January 30, 2023. 

Muhammad Sajjad/AP

You are reading: Pakistan mosque bombing: Dozens dead, scores injured as suicide bomber targets police in Peshawar

A Pakistani security officer who spoke to CBS News on the condition of anonymity said the country’s armed forces had made significant strides against the TTP but that the group had managed to regain operational strength by operating across the Afghan border, enabling it to “start attacking soft targets in Pakistan.” 

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The official said TTP leaders were orchestrating attacks inside Pakistan from Afghan soil, and said it was the “duty and responsibility” of the Afghan Taliban regime ruling the neighboring nation to prevent such operations.

A survivor of Monday’s attack, 38-year-old police officer Meena Gul, said he was inside the mosque when the bomb went off. He said he didn’t know how he survived unhurt. He could hear cries and screams after the bomb exploded, he said. Gul said there were more than 150 worshippers inside the mosque when the bomb went off. 

Another local officer, Aftab Khan, told CBS News he was preparing to go to the mosque to pray when he heard the “huge blast.” 

“Due to security threats and fears of Taliban attack, police were on high alert,” he said, “but this tragic attack took the lives of many police and civilians.” 

Pakistan’s DAWN TV network quoted Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif as condemning the attack and lambasting the attackers as having “nothing to do with Islam.” 

“Terrorists want to create fear by targeting those who perform the duty of defending Pakistan,” he said, alluding to the high number of security forces who use the mosque. “The entire nation is standing united against the menace of terrorism.”

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