ISLAMABAD — An explosion struck Monday inside the Police Lines mosque in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar, bringing down one of its walls and killing at least 59 people and wounding more than 157, police and hospital officials.
Police offials said bodies were still be ing pulled out of the rubble.
The blast was likely caused by a suicide bomber, according to Pakistan's interior minister Rana Sanaullah, who spoke at a press conference. Local media reported that the bomber had joined worshippers for early afternoon prayers in the mosque, which is frequented by police officers.
A Twitter account affiliated with a Pakistani offshoot of the Taliban, known as the TTP, claimed responsibility for the attack.
Peshawar is the capital of Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which borders Afghanistan has been the scene of frequent militant attacks. But the mosque is in a heavily guarded part of the city, meaning the bomber should have been searched multiple times to reaching their target.
Following the blast, police in the Pakistani capital Islamabad announced they were on high alert, deploying snipers and stepping up checks of residents at entry and exit points.
There have been increasing attacks on soldiers and police in Pakistan since the Taliban seized power of neighboring Afghanistan more than a year ago. An offshoot of the Taliban, known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP, often claims responsibility.
Also Monday, authorities announced a sudden public holiday as they prepared to host the president of the United Arab Emirates. But the Pakistani prime minister's office said that visit was called off — because of the weather.