56 people were killed and 194 others wounded, in the devastating bombing of a Shiite mosque in the northwestern city of Peshawar, Pakistani police say
Police official Waheed Khan said the death toll will likely rise as many of the wounded are in critical condition.
The violence began when two gunmen opened fire on police standing guard outside the Kucha Risaldar mosque in the congested old city of Peshawar, not far from the border with Afghanistan. One attacker and one policeman was killed in the firefight. A second attacker then stormed into the mosque and blew himself up.
Local police official Waheed Khan said the explosion occurred as worshippers had collected in the Kucha Risaldar mosque in Peshawar’s old city for Friday prayers. Ambulances rushed through congested narrow streets carrying the wounded to Lady Reading Hospital, where doctors worked feverishly.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the blast, but both the Daesh group and a violent Pakistani Taliban organization have carried out similar attacks in the region, located near the border with neighboring Afghanistan.
Shayan Haider, a witness, had been preparing to enter the mosque when a powerful explosion threw him to the street.
“I opened my eyes and there was dust and bodies everywhere,” he said.
At the Lady Reading Hospital Emergency department, there was chaos as doctors struggled to move the many wounded into operating theaters.
Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the bombing.
In majority Sunni Muslim Pakistan, minority Shiite Muslims have come under repeated attacks.