At least nine killed, and over 50 injured in attack targeting worshipers at mosque center.
At least nine people were killed, including two children, and over 50 others injured in an attack targeting Peshawar’s busiest preaching center on Thursday evening.
“The death toll from the blast at the preaching center has been raised to nine,” Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa health minister Shaukat Yousafzai told AFP. Initially, six people were reported killed. “Seven patients are in critical condition and I fear a rise in the death toll,” he said.
“The blast occurred when people were offering evening prayers,” said Muhammad Ijaz Khan, Peshawar city’s police chief. He said around 800 people were at the Tableeghi Markaz at the time. Sources at the nearby Lady Reading Hospital also confirmed the death toll. “We received six bodies at the hospital and over 40 injured people,” they said.
Shortly after the blast, police cordoned off the area and have launched an investigation. “It was a timed device and not a suicide attack,” said the chief of the Bomb Disposal Squad. “Five kilograms of explosive material had been placed in an oil canister.”
The timing of the blast coincided with a weekly gathering of worshipers at the Tableeghi Markaz. People from across Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province gather at the site every Thursday night for sermons, and prayers.
Yousafzai has condemned the blast, saying: “No Muslim would dare to carry out such an attack. The person who carried out this attack cannot be a Muslim or a Pakistani.”
President Mamnoon Hussain and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, in separate statements, have also expressed deep grief and sorrow over the loss of lives as a result of the blast.
Denying the Pakistani Taliban had any role in the blast, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan spokesman Shahidullah Shahid told Newsweek via telephone the TTP did not attack innocents. “We never target innocent people,” he said, adding: “It is not our policy to carry out such attacks and we are distancing ourselves from it.”