Islamic State claims bombing of Pakistani mosque, killing dozens

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A bomb ripped through a Shia mosque in Peshawar, northwest Pakistan, on Friday, killing at least 57 people and inju...


PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A bomb ripped through a Shia mosque in Peshawar, northwest Pakistan, on Friday, killing at least 57 people and injuring more than 100 in one of Pakistan’s worst terror attacks in several years.

The regional branch of the Islamic State, Islamic State Khorasan, or ISIS-K, claimed responsibility, according to a translation of an ISIS statement by the SITE Intelligence Group. The press release indicates that the attack was committed by an Afghan suicide bomber.

The Islamic State, a Sunni Muslim terror group that views Shiites as heretics, has claimed responsibility for several previous attacks in Pakistan, but the mosque bombing was the largest and deadliest to date.

Police officials said at least one gunman on a motorcycle killed two police guards before entering the mosque and detonating what appeared to be a suicide vest, while another official said that there were two assailants.

The attack was one of the deadliest in years to hit Peshawar, a city of around two million people near Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan. In 2014, nine armed Taliban killed more than 140 people at Army Public School and University College.

“We are trying to understand and determine what happened,” provincial police chief Moazzam Jah said Friday.

Peshawar Police Chief Ejaz Khan said police recovered pellets, spent bullet cartridges and pieces of the weapon used in the initial attacks. He said there appeared to have been two assailants, both of whom carried and detonated explosives.

“We have secured CCTV footage and will be reviewing it very closely,” he said.

Locals said they heard a huge explosion at the main mosque in Kocha Risaldar, a predominantly Shia neighborhood that is part of the centuries-old Qissa Khawani bazaar, a former trading center.

Police cordoned off the mosque while rescue workers took the dead and injured to the town’s main hospital, Lady Reading.

A hospital spokesman, Muhammad Asim Khan, said 10 of those people were “in very critical condition”.

When asked if they were able to identify the bodies, he replied that in many cases the police had just brought severed body parts to the hospital.

“We assembled limbs to create nine bodies,” he said.

Late Friday night, dozens of relatives of the victims still crowded the entrance to the hospital in the hope of knowing the fate of their loved ones.

One of them, Sadiq Bangash, said his 41-year-old brother was seriously injured and his 11-year-old nephew killed.

His brother, who runs a mobile phone shop in a local market near the Afghan border, had taken his son to the mosque for Friday prayers.

“Our relatives rushed to Peshawar after learning of the blast,” he said.

Friday’s attack ended a relative lull in violence in Peshawar, which has borne the brunt of Taliban militancy in recent years. Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, the interior minister, called the attack an attempt to “disturb the peace and tranquility of the provincial capital”, according to state media.

Shia groups across the country staged protests in the evening to condemn the attack.

“The Pakistani state has failed to protect its citizens, even in mosques,” said Allama Nazir Abbas Taqvi, a Shiite religious scholar, who led a protest in Karachi.

Islamic State Khorasan announced its formation in eastern Afghanistan in 2015 and was initially led by former members of the Pakistani Taliban.

In May 2019, ISIS created a separate Pakistani section, which carried out attacks in Baluchistan Province, targeting the Shia Hazara ethnic group. In Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, of which Peshawar is the capital, security forces accused the terror group of targeting members of other religious minorities, including Sikhs and a Christian priest.

Last fall, ISIS-K perpetrated high-profile bombings in two Shia mosques in Afghanistan, killing and injuring dozens.

The Afghan Taliban, after taking power in August, launched a series of operations against the group, possibly prompting its fighters to shift operations to Pakistan, intelligence officials said.

A second mosque attack on Friday, in Afghanistan’s Paktia province, southwest of Peshawar, left at least three people dead and more than two dozen injured after an explosive device detonated, a spokesman said. of the Taliban.

Ismail Khan reported from Peshawar, and Salman Massoud from Islamabad. Safiullah Padshah contributed reporting from Kabul, Afghanistan.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Islamic State claims bombing of Pakistani mosque, killing dozens
Islamic State claims bombing of Pakistani mosque, killing dozens
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