At least 57 people were killed and over 200 wounded in a bomb blast inside a mosque in the north-western Pakistani city of Peshawar during Friday prayers on 4 March, news agency ANI reported. Terror group Islamic State (IS) has claimed responsibility for the attack.
The police stated that a powerful bomb exploded inside a Shi'ite Jamia mosque located in the Kocha Risaldar area of the city, which is situated near the Qissa Khwani bazaar.
A spokesperson from Peshawar's Lady Reading Hospital said that about 50 of those injured in the blast were in critical condition, reported news agency AFP. The explosion has been the deadliest since July 2018, when a suicide bomb had detonated in a crowded market in the city.
What Had Happened?
Police officer Ijaz Ahsan said that two gunmen entered the mosque and opened fire on two police officers, out of whom one died after reportedly "blowing himself up" and the other is in a serious condition, as per AFP.
He also said that the blast took place after the policemen were shot.
A witness, Shayan Haider, who was about to enter the mosque when the explosion occurred, said, "I opened my eyes and there were bodies and dust everywhere.”
"We are investigating the nature of the blast, but it seemed to be a suicide attack," police officer Mohammad Sajjad Khan told Reuters on Friday.
The wounded were taken to the Lady Reading Hospital Emergency department, where immense chaos ensued as doctors struggled to move wounded patients into operation theatres.
Hundreds of grief-stricken relatives surrounded the ward, wailing and confused, waiting to know about the condition of their loved ones, AP reported.
Pak PM Imran Khan, UN Secy-General Condemn Attack
Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan strongly condemned the attack and ordered immediate provisions to provide medical treatment to the wounded, his office said in a statement.
Condemning the attack, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said that he had asked the provincial chief secretary and inspector general of police to submit a report on the attack.
"Houses of worship should be havens, not targets. I condemn today’s horrific attack on a mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan, during Friday prayers. My condolences to those who have lost loved ones, and my solidarity with the people of Pakistan," United Nations Secretary General Antiono Guterres said in a tweet.
(With inputs from AFP and Reuters.)