A powerful suicide blast ripped through a crowded Shia mosque during the Friday congregation in Pakistan's northwestern Peshawar city, killing at least 35 people and wounding more than 80 others, in one of the deadliest attacks in the restive province, bordering Afghanistan.
A rescue official said the blast occurred at a Jamia mosque in Qissa Khwani bazaar area in Peshawar when the worshippers were offering Friday prayers. No group immediately claimed responsibility for the blast.
Asim Khan, media manager of Lady Reading Hospital, said 30 bodies had been brought to the hospital so far, according to Dawn newspaper.
At least 80 people have been injured, according to Khyber Pakhtunkhwa minister Kamran Bangash, the paper said. Talking to the media, Peshawar SSP Operations Haroon Rasheed Khan said the explosion was a suicide blast. There were two attackers but only one of them was a suicide bomber, he said.
An emergency has been enforced in the hospital and doctors on leave were called for duties. Officials said the condition of 10 injured is stated to be critical. Capital City Police Officer Peshawar Ijaz Ahsan said two attackers tried to enter the mosque and fired at the policemen standing guard. One policeman was killed while the other was critically injured, he said.
The blast occurred following the firing incident, he added. President Arif Alvi condemned the blast and expressed grief over the precious lives lost. Prime Minister Imran Khan strongly condemned the Peshawar blast while Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed sought a report of the incident from the Chief Secretary and IG of the province.
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan condemned the blast and vowed to bring the perpetrators of this heinous act to justice. He said targeting people in a place of worship is an inhuman and cruel act and directed authorities to ensure the best medical care to the injured.
He has convened an emergency meeting at Chief Minister's House to review the overall security situation in the province, bordering Afghanistan.
"Heart-wrenching terrorist incident in Peshawar in which so many precious lives have been lost. Words can't adequately condemn the sheer brutality. Terrorism continues to remain our foremost national challenge. Prayers & condolences are with the bereaved families!" PML-N President and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly Shehbaz Sharif tweeted.