At least 70 people were killed and more than 150 wounded in a bomb blast at a mosque in a security compound in northwestern Pakistan, officials said. It was the nation’s worst such attack in almost 11 months.
“We are still retrieving dead bodies from the debris,” said Inquilab Khan, a shift supervisor at rescue agency Edhi in Peshawar, who gave the latest casualty toll.
The explosion took place Monday during afternoon prayers, inside an area where Peshawar’s police headquarters and other government offices are located, Ghulam Ali, the governor of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, told reporters.
Police are still looking through the ruins of the mosque, according to Peshawar’s police chief, Mohammad Ijaz Khan. “Around 300 to 400 people from different offices gather for prayers” at the mosque, he said. “Since it happened during prayer time, we can’t rule out a suicide attack.”
In March last year, the Islamic State group claimed responsibility for an attack on a Shia mosque that killed more than 60 worshippers.
No group has claimed responsibility for the latest attack, but Pakistan has seen a spike in violence since the Taliban seized power in neighboring Afghanistan. The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, a militant group with links to the Afghan group, last year ended a cease-fire with the government in Islamabad and announced a resumption of attacks across the nation.
According to the Islamabad-based Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, militant violence spiked by 22% in 2022 compared with 2021.