Pakistan mosque blast: 100 dead as officials admit 'security lapse'

Global condemnation follows deadliest attack in years in Peshawar

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The death toll in a terrorist attack on a mosque in Pakistan rose to 100 as local officials acknowledged a security lapse led to one of the biggest attacks in recent years.

More than 300 worshippers were praying in the mosque in Pakistan's north-west city of Peshawar when the bomber detonated an explosive vest on Monday.

The blast ripped through the mosque, killing and injuring scores and also blew off a part of the roof.

One hundred people have now been confirmed dead and at least 225 others were wounded, Kashif Aftab Abbasi, a senior officer in Peshawar, told reporters on Tuesday.

Almost all of the dead and wounded are policemen, who worked in the high-security compound housing the mosque. It is still unclear how the bomber gained access to the area.

“Yes, there was a security lapse and the inspector-general of the police has set up an inquiry committee, which will look into all aspects of the bombing,” said Mr Abbasi.

“Action will be taken against those whose negligence” caused the attack.

Inspector General Mauzzam Jah Ansari said most of the victims were killed by the building collapse rather than the bomb itself.

The attacker is suspected to have smuggled in small quantities of explosives into the compound over time, he told reporters on Tuesday.

Rescue operations have now ended, and teams removing the last of the rubble expect to find no other survivors.

“I remained trapped under the rubble with a dead body over me for seven hours,” one survivor told AFP.

UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said the blast was “abhorrent” and US Secretary of State Antony Blinken extended his condolences for the “horrific attack”.

“Terrorism for any reason at any place is indefensible,” he said.

The Saudi embassy in Islamabad denounced the attack. The US embassy said “the United States stands with Pakistan in condemning all forms of terrorism".

The UAE strongly rejects “all forms of violence and terrorism aimed at undermining security and stability in contravention of human values and principles", the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation said.

“The ministry expressed its sincere condolences to the government of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan and its people and to the families of victims of this heinous crime, as well as its wishes for a speedy recovery for all the injured,” it said.

GCC Secretary General Nayef Al Hajraf also condemned the attack.

Former Pakistani prime minister Imran Khan called the bombing a “terrorist suicide attack".

Monday's attack was the deadliest Pakistan has endured since a suicide bombing killed 64 at a mosque in Peshawar in March.

Mohammad Asim, a government hospital spokesman in Peshawar, told AP that more bodies were found overnight and early on Tuesday.

“Most of them were policemen,” he said.

Bilal Faizi, the chief rescue official, said teams were still working on Tuesday at the site of the bombing and more people were believed to be trapped inside.

Mourners were burying the victims at graveyards in the city and elsewhere.

It was not clear how the bomber was able to slip into the walled compound in a high-security zone with other government buildings and get to the mosque — an indication of a major security lapse.

Updated: January 31, 2023, 8:36 PM