NEW DELHI: The death toll from Monday’s bombing at a mosque in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar rose to 100 as more bodies were recovered from the rubble on Tuesday.
The suspected suicide bombing targeted Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province’s police personnel in what is being viewed as a major security lapse.
The mosque is located in the city’s high security zone, which has the offices of various police and security units such as the Capital City Police, Frontier Reserve Police, Elite Police Force and the counterterrorism department.
More than 220 worshippers were injured in the explosion, which brought down the front section of the mosque.
Officials said most of the victims were policemen.
“Through their despicable actions, terrorists want to spread fear and paranoia among the masses and reverse our hard-earned gains against terrorism and militancy. My message to all political forces is one of unity against anti-Pakistan elements,“ Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on Tuesday.
Condemning the attack, former prime minister Imran Khan demanded that Pakistan’s police forces should be provided better equipment to combat terrorism.
“It is imperative we improve our intelligence gathering and properly equip our police forces to combat the growing threat of terrorism,“ he said.
Police said they were investigating how a suspected “suicide bomber” was able to enter the fortified area.
“There are canteens present, some construction work was also ongoing. Somehow (explosive) material was brought here in small quantities over a period of time,“ Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s inspector general of police Moazzam Jah Ansari was quoted as saying in a media report.
International condemnation of the devastating attack has been strong. Kuwait, Turkiye, Qatar, Canada, Belgium, the United States and Norway were among the countries denouncing the bombing.
Saudi Arabia’s Foreign Ministry in a statement said the Kingdom stands by Pakistan in the face of violence and terrorism.
“Our solidarity and support is with the brotherly Islamic Republic of Pakistan,“ Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said.
The General Secretariat of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) reassured Pakistan of the 57-member group’s support in tackling terrorism.
“There can be no place for violence, especially at a place of worship. We stand with Pakistan and extend our condolences to the victims and their families,“ the Italian Foreign Ministry said. -Bernama