Lodi News-Sentinel

Death toll in Pakistan mosque bombing rises to 100

- Qamar Zaman

ISLAMABAD — The death toll from a suicide bombing at a crowded mosque that targeted police in the Pakistani city of Peshawar has risen to 100, officials said on Tuesday.

Some 221 others were wounded in Monday’s attack on the mosque, which sits inside a high-security zone next to a police headquarte­rs.

At least 10 bodies were recovered from the rubble of the mosque’s collapsed wall and roof overnight.

Local police official Ayaz Khan said the majority of the victims belonged to the police force, including clerical staff.

As funeral prayers were being offered for the dead, an inquiry was investigat­ing how the multi-layered security infrastruc­ture at the site was breached.

“It was no less than an attack on Pakistan,” Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said of the bombing, which was one of the country’s deadliest in years.

The outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), or Pakistani Taliban, distanced itself from the attack but one of its splinter factions claimed responsibi­lity.

The TTP’s move to dissociate itself came as Afghanista­n’s Taliban-run Foreign Ministry condemned the killing of worshipper­s as contrary to the teachings of Islam.

The Pakistani Taliban is distinct from its Afghan counterpar­t but they are allied.

The Pakistani Taliban has allegedly been operating from bases in Afghanista­n since it was pushed back from stronghold­s in Pakistan in a series of military offensives from 2014.

The TTP fighters and leaders were released from jails and were emboldened after the Afghan Taliban took over Kabul.

“The TTP did not claim responsibi­lity of the attack due to the pressure of Afghan Taliban,” Amir Rana, a security analyst and director at Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS), told dpa.

He said that Jaamat-ulAhrar (JuA), a splinter faction of the TTP, claimed responsibi­lity of the attack to avenge the killing of their leader Omar Khalid Khorasani. The group has been behind several such attacks in recent past, he said.

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