An explosion at a mosque in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar has killed 88 people and left 57 people in a critical condition, according to officials.
The mosque is situated in Peshawar’s Police Lines, which is part of the city’s ‘red zone’ housing important government installations including the Chief Minister House, Governor House, and the provincial assembly building for Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Local news channels reported emerging details suggesting the attack may have been the work of a suicide bomber.
A policeman, who survived the attack, told news agency AFP the explosion took place seconds after the prayers started and the place was filled with black smoke.
Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned the bombing and ordered authorities to ensure the best possible medical treatment for the victims. He promised “stern action” against those behind the attack.
Former Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan took to Twitter to condemn the attack.
“Strongly condemn the terrorist suicide attack in police lines mosque Peshawar during prayers,” he tweeted.
“It is imperative we improve our intelligence gathering and properly equip our police forces to combat the growing threat of terrorism.”
In addition to its looming economic troubles, Pakistan is also seeing a surge of violence, with Peshawar, the capital of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan, experiencing frequent attacks in particular.
In November last year, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), ideologically aligned with the Afghan Taliban, unilaterally ended a ceasefire with the Pakistani state, as concerns arose of the TTP gaining ground in the region, with the Taliban coming to power in Afghanistan.
The TTP, which has been waging a war with the Pakistani state for years, demands the imposition of their hardline interpretation of Islamic law, the release of its members arrested by the government, and a reversal of the merger of Pakistan’s tribal areas with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
This article has been updated
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