PESHAWAR: The death toll from a bomb blast that ripped through a mosque in the northwestern city of Peshawar surged to 87 on Tuesday, a spokesperson of the largest health facility in the northwestern city confirmed.
Police said up to 350 worshipers were inside the mosque for afternoon prayers when the bomber detonated his explosives inside a compound where the headquarters of the provincial police are located. The last death toll reported on Monday was 59 while at least 157 had been wounded in the incident.
“The death toll has now surged to 87 as of 8:00 a.m. today (Tuesday),” Muhammad Asim, a spokesperson at the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) in Peshawar, told Arab News. “Almost 50 wounded are under treatment in the hospital while the rest were either died or discharged after treatment,” he added.
Akbar Khan, an official working for the social welfare organization Edhi Center in Peshawar said its volunteers along with Rescue-1122, Chippa and Al-Khidmat personnel were busy in the rescue operation. “Hopefully, the rescue operation will be completed today,” he added.
Earlier on Monday, Commissioner Peshawar Riaz Mehsud said a “big explosion” had completely damaged the mosque’s roof but was unable to confirm whether it was a suicide explosion.
“It will be premature to say whether it was a suicide explosion,” he told Arab News. “We haven’t yet confirmed how many policemen are dead and wounded but I think 90 percent casualties are of police personnel because most of those offering prayers in the mosque were policemen.”
Funeral prayers of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police personnel who died during the blast were held on Monday night, KP Police confirmed on Twitter.
Muhammad Ijaz Khan, the Capital City Police Officer (CCPO), had said on Monday that many people, including policemen, were still trapped under the debris.
“We can’t as of yet determine what caused the explosion but it was a security lapse,” Khan said.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing but the Pakistani Taliban group have recently carried out similar attacks, with assaults on the rise since last November when the group called off a cease-fire signed with the government in May.
Ahmad Khan, a police constable who was inside the mosque when the blast occurred, had said the roof collapsed after the explosion.
“It was the time for Zuhr (afternoon) prayers,” Khan said. “I was in the second row among worshippers when the blast took place. The roof of the mosque collapsed with many worshippers trapped but I managed to come out with small injuries.”
Soon after the blast, the provincial health department declared a state of emergency at the city’s hospitals.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif flew to Peshawar a few hours after the attack to meet the victims of the tragedy. Sharif later wrote on Twitter that the blast was “no less than an attack on Pakistan.”