PESHAWAR: A powerful suicide blast inside a mosque in Peshawar’s Police Lines area on Monday martyred 18 people while more than 90 others were injured, security and health officials told Geo News.
According to security officials, the suicide attacker was present in the front row during the prayers when he exploded himself, injuring dozens of faithful offering Zohr prayers.
The injured were shifted to the Lady Reading Hospital of Peshawar.
A spokesperson of the hospital said that 18 people have been martyred in the blast and over 90 injured have been brought to the facility. More than 30 injured were in critical condition, doctors said.
The hospital has appealed citizens to donate blood for the victims.
Health facilities on red alert
The provincial health department announced a “medical emergency” in the city in the wake of the Police Lines Peshawar bomb blast.
“All the doctors and support staff in the government health facilities including MTIs in district Peshawar are directed to remain on red alert to cope with the emergencies, till further orders,” the notification issued in this regard.
An eyewitness told the media that he was going to the mosque when the explosion took place.
“It was a powerful explosion. There was smoke everywhere after the blast,” said the eyewitness. He added that when got conscious he saw the roof of the mosque collapsed.
“There were at least 120 people in the mosque when the incident took place. It was a suicide blast because the bomber was inside the mosque’s inner courtyard. The Zohr prayers had just started when it happened. There were mostly policemen among the injured,” said the eyewitness.
President of the Civil Secretariat Association Peshawar Tassavur Iqbal, who regularly prays at the mosque, said that the Police Lines area’s security is always high and no one can enter without showing their identity and body search.
“This is an unfortunate incident that took place here today. This is a big mosque and 400-500 people can offer prayers at a time. We are hearing that the building collapsed after the blast,” said Iqbal.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif strongly condemned the blast, adding that the blast inside a mosque proves that those involved in the attack have “nothing to do with Islam.”
“These terrorists are trying to instil fear by targeting those who perform the duty of defending Pakistan,” he said, assuring the people that the coalition government will take strict action against those involved.
Planning Minister Ahsan Iqbal said that suicide attack was the “worst form” of terrorism.
“The aim of such brutal and cowardly attacks is to weaken the nation’s resolve against terrorism, but this resolve will be strengthened by every drop of blood and martyrdom,” said the minister.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari, condemning the incident, said that strict action will be taken against the terrorists, their backers and facilitators.
Terror incidents before general and by-elections are “meaningful”, he added.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan also took to Twitter to condemn the suicide attack.
“My prayers and condolences go to victims families. It is imperative we improve our intelligence gathering and properly equip our police forces to combat the growing threat of terrorism,” said Khan.
Former president and Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Co-chairperson Asif Ali Zardari condemned the incident, saying that the terrorists being active in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa is “extremely dangerous”.
He said that the government should end the nurseries of terrorism by following the national action plan.
Former provincial chief minister Mahmood Khan strongly condemned the incident, saying that the blast is very “heartbreaking”.
“The loss of lives is extremely upsetting,” said Khan while praying for the martyrs and for the speedy recovery of the injured.
Islamabad on alert
Inspector General of Islamabad Dr Akbar Nasir Khan issued orders to put security on high alert in the federal capital.
Moreover, checking has been increased at all the entry and exit points in the city while monitoring is being done by Safe City Capital Command and Control Centre Islamabad.
Snipers have also been deployed at important ports and buildings.
This is a developing story and is being updated with more details.