Death toll in Pakistan mosque bombing climbs to 63

Death toll in Pakistan mosque bombing climbs to 63

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PESHAWAR A bombing inside a mosque in the north-western Pakistani city of Peshawar has killed at least 63 people, medics say. The blast blew out doors and windows and left extensive casualties inside the mosque

A hospital spokesman said nearly 200 people were wounded in the suspected suicide attack on the mosque while Friday prayers were being held. Some of the injured are said to be in a critical condition.

Officials vowed Saturday to hunt down and arrest the masterminds behind the deadly mosque attack in Pakistan a day earlier claimed by a Daesh so-called IS affiliate. Daesh said in a statement the lone suicide bomber was from neighboring Afghanistan.

He shot two police guarding the Shiite Muslim mosque in northwest Peshawar before entering inside and exploding his device, it said. The attack took place as worshipers knelt in Friday prayer. The Daesh affiliate, known as IS in Khorasan Province, is headquartered in eastern Afghanistan.

I saw a man firing at two policemen before he entered the mosque. Seconds later I heard a big bang, said one witness Zahid Khan, AFP news agency reports.

We have declared an emergency at the hospitals, said Muhammad Asim Khan, a spokesman for Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital, who updated an earlier death toll from police that stood at 30.

The Taliban rulers in Afghanistan, who have been fighting Daesh, condemned the attack. Daesh has proven to be the Taliban’s greatest security threat since sweeping into power last August.

We condemn the bombing of a mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan. There is no justification for attacking civilians and worshipers, Taliban Deputy Minister for Culture and Information Zabihullah Mujahid tweeted. He refused to comment on the Daesh claim that the suicide bomber was Afghan.

Late into Friday night and early Saturday, Pakistanis buried their dead amid heavy security, with sniffer dogs deployed. Police carried out body searches of mourners who were then searched a second time by security provided by Pakistan’s Shiite community.

Hundreds of mourners crying and beating their chests attended funeral prayers for 13 victims late Friday and for another 11 on Saturday at Peshawar’s Kohati Gate.

These were human beings and worshipers inside the mosque, and they were brutally killed at a time when they were busy praying to God, Hayat Khan told The Associated Press late Friday night as he buried a relative.

One of the police officers who was shot outside Kucha Risaldar mosque died immediately and the second died later from his wounds, police officials said.

Pakistan Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry said in a statement that three investigation teams were established to study forensic evidence and closed-circuit TV footage to track down the attack’s organizers.

The crudely made device was packed with ball bearings, a deadly method of constructing a bomb to inflict maximum carnage because it sprays deadly projectiles over a large area. The ball bearings caused the high death toll, said Moazzam Jah Ansari, the top police official for Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province, where Peshawar is the capital.

Friday’s attack in Peshawar’s congested old city was the worst in years in Pakistan. The country has seen renewed militant attacks after several years of relative quiet that followed military operations against militant hideouts in the border regions with Afghanistan.

The attacks have mostly been carried out by the Pakistani Taliban since last August when the Afghan Taliban swept into power and America ended its 20-year involvement in Afghanistan. The Pakistan Taliban are not connected to the new Afghan rulers. However, they are hiding out in Afghanistan and despite Pakistan’s repeated request to hand them over, none have yet been found and expelled. Agencies