Dozens trapped under rubble after mosque explosion in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Pakistan

Officials have so far confirmed at least two deaths in the blast

Muslims pray during Ramadan at a mosque in Peshawar. AFP
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A mosque has collapsed after an explosion near Peshawar city, Pakistan, with 30 to 40 people trapped under the rubble, according to local police.

Officials have so far confirmed at least two deaths in the explosion, which occurred on Friday in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

Shah Raz Khan, a local police officer, said the mud-brick mosque collapsed because of the impact of the blast and that rescuers were now pulling worshippers from the rubble. Police said it was not immediately clear what had caused the explosion.

No one has claimed responsibility for the blast. About 40 people were praying at the mosque at the time, most of them police officers.

The attack came hours after a powerful bomb exploded near a mosque at a rally celebrating the birthday of the Prophet Mohammed in Mastung, Balochistan province, killing at least 52 and injuring nearly 70.

Speaking to The National, Saeedur Rehman, a duty officer locally referred to as Moharrar, stated that two armed attackers arrived at the main gate and launched an assault with guns and hand grenades.

One of the attackers was shot dead in retaliatory fire by the policemen present there, while the other managed to enter and detonate his explosive vest at the mosque's gate.

“The mosque building caved in due to the blast's intensity, and dozens of worshippers were buried under the roof,” Mr Rehman added.

“The bombing occurred just two minutes before the prayer leader was about to start the Friday congregational prayer. Its building caved in due to the blast's intensity.”

Mr Rehman mentioned that the mosque is primarily for police personnel, but local residents also visit from time to time, particularly for Friday noon prayers.

Local resident Farooq Khan told The National that there were two blasts from two bombers and that dozens of worshippers were present.

“When the first bomber exploded at the police station gate, many people left the mosque and ran away, while the second one later entered the police station and exploded at the mosque entrance,” he explained.

“Because people started fleeing at the time of the first bombing, it resulted in fewer casualties when the mosque roof collapsed.”

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's caretaker Chief Minister Azam Khan declared a state of emergency for all hospitals in the region. He said the inspector general of police and the chief secretary of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province had been directed to visit the site of the attack.

Pakistan's President Arif Alvi condemned the attacks and asked authorities to provide all possible assistance to the wounded and the victims' families.

Friday's twin attacks are the worst in Pakistan since January, when a suicide bombing killed 92 people in Peshawar.

Militant groups such as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan and ISIS have claimed credit for previous deadly attacks, especially those targeting Pakistan’s armed forces.

Two weeks ago, a roadside blast injured a key politician in the same region while another attack last month targeted a convoy of Chinese engineers.

Updated: September 29, 2023, 4:54 PM