mosque blast kills worshippers in Peshawar

At least 27 people killed and 147 wounded after explosion in north-western city

A suicide bomber has struck inside a mosque in the north-western Pakistani city of Peshawar, killing at least 27 people and wounding another 147.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing but the Pakistani Taliban have been blamed in similar suicide attacks.

The assailant detonated the bomb as 200 worshipers – including many police officers from nearby offices – were praying. The impact of the explosion collapsed the roof of the mosque and injured many, said Zafar Khan, a local police officer.

Meena Gul, a police officer, said he was inside the mosque when the bomb went off. He said he did not know how he survived unhurt. Gul could hear cries and screams after the explosion.

Rescuers scrambled to remove mounds of debris from the mosque grounds and get to worshippers trapped under the rubble, police said. Khan said several of the wounded were in a critical condition at a hospital and there were fears the death toll would rise.

The Pakistani prime minister, Shahbaz Sharif, condemned the bombing, and ordered authorities to ensure the best possible medical treatment to the survivors. He also vowed “stern action” against the perpetrators.

The former prime minister Imran Khan called the incident a “terrorist suicide attack” in a Twitter post. “My prayers & condolences go to victims families,” said Khan. “It is imperative we improve our intelligence gathering & properly equip our police forces to combat the growing threat of terrorism.”

Peshawar is the capital of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan and has been the scene of frequent militant attacks.

The Pakistani Taliban, known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP, are a separate group but a close ally of the Afghan Taliban, who seized power in neighbouring Afghanistan in August 2021 as US and Nato troops were in the final stages of their withdrawal from the country after 20 years of war.

The TTP has waged an insurgency in Pakistan over the past 15 years, fighting for stricter enforcement of Islamic laws, the release of members in government custody and a reduction of the military presence in former tribal regions.

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