A targeted suicide blast at a mosque inside a police headquarters in Peshawar, Pakistan, killed 100 policemen on Monday. The mosque was filled with 300 to 400 officers who had gathered for afternoon prayers when the explosion occurred, causing a wall and most of the roof to collapse and shower rubble on the officers. The city police chief stated that the attack was carried out to demoralize the police force as they are on the front line fighting against militants.
A suicide bomber entered the mosque as a guest and was carrying 10 to 12 kilograms of explosive material. The head of the police force believed a militant group affiliated with the Pakistani Taliban could be responsible. The low-level militancy in the areas near Peshawar bordering Afghanistan has been steadily increasing. The survivors of the attack shared their harrowing experiences, with one survivor being trapped under the rubble with a dead body for seven hours and another escaping after the explosion took place seconds into the prayers.
The suicide bombing that took place on Monday in a mosque located inside a Pakistan police headquarters in the provincial capital of Peshawar has been deemed as a targeted revenge attack. According to police officials, the attack was meant to demoralize the police force as they are on the frontlines taking action against militants. The bombing resulted in the death of 100 police officers and injured many more.
The suicide bomber, who entered the mosque as a guest, was carrying approximately 22-26 pounds of explosive material. The militant group that carried out the attack could have been affiliated with the Pakistani Taliban or a local chapter of the Islamic State. The attack has been met with shock and grief from the local community, with survivors recounting the horror of being trapped under rubble for hours and witnessing the aftermath of the explosion.
Search for Survivors
The suicide bombing at a mosque inside a Pakistan police headquarters on Monday resulted in 100 deaths, according to a police chief. The attack was carried out by a suicide bomber who entered the mosque as a guest and carried 22-26 pounds of explosive material, causing the entire wall and roof of the mosque to collapse as 300-400 police officers gathered for afternoon prayers. The attack was seen as a targeted revenge attack aimed at demoralizing the police force.
The investigation into how such a major security breach occurred is ongoing. The White House and UN Secretary-General have called the attack “unconscionable” and “abhorrent”. The tragedy takes place as Pakistan faces a massive economic downturn and political chaos leading up to elections by October.
The Pakistani Taliban, separate from the Afghan Taliban but with a similar ideology, denied responsibility for the suicide bombing in a police mosque. In recent times, the group has attempted to rebrand itself as a less violent organization, claiming not to target places of worship. However, authorities are considering all possibilities, including the involvement of a TTP splinter faction, the Islamic State, or a coordinated attack by multiple groups. A security official in Peshawar stated that the TTP often does not claim responsibility for attacks in mosques because they are considered sacred places.
Pakistan was once plagued by almost daily bombings, but a major military operation starting in 2014 largely restored order. However, analysts say that militants in the former tribal areas near Peshawar and bordering Afghanistan have become more audacious since the return of the Afghan Taliban, and that terrorism has once again become a national security crisis for Pakistan.
After the blast, the surrounding provinces were put on high alert with increased checkpoints and additional security forces deployed, and in the capital city of Islamabad, snipers were posted on buildings and at city entry points. The security breach occurred on the same day that the United Arab Emirates President was due to visit Islamabad, although the trip was cancelled due to bad weather. Pakistan is also hosting an International Monetary Fund delegation as it seeks to unlock a crucial bailout loan to avoid an imminent default.