The death toll from the attack on a mosque in Peshawar’s Police Lines area a day earlier rose to 88 on Tuesday after more bodies were recovered from the attack site, a spokesperson for the Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) confirmed.
On Friday, 59 people, mostly police officials, were martyred and over 150 were injured after an explosion ripped through a mosque in Peshawar’s Red Zone area.
The outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack. It later distanced itself from it.
In a statement issued today, LRH spokesperson Muhammad Asim said that all the deceased persons have been identified, while 57 of those injured are receiving treatment at the facility.
He added that a total of 157 injured people were brought to the hospital on Monday and most of them had been sent back home after medical aid.
Meanwhile, Rescue 1122 spokesperson Bilal Faizi said that a rescue operation at the blast site was under way for the past 18 hours.
“This morning we are going to remove the last part of the collapsed roof so we can recover more bodies, but we are not hopeful of reaching any survivors,” he told AFP.
Nature of blast yet to be determined
A police report issued after the attack, a copy of which is available with Dawn.com, said the explosion occurred inside the main hall of a mosque — which has a capacity of 300 to 350 men — located in the Police Lines area.
The locality comprises headquarters of the Capital City Police, Frontier Reserve Police, Elite Police Force, Counter Terrorism Department, Tele Communication Branch, RRF and SCU etc, it stated.
The statement said that the blast caused the roof of the mosque to collapse and a rescue operation was underway by the Pakistan Army and Rescue 1122, for retrieval of casualties.
“A severed head has been recovered from inside the debris. The use of explosives in the incident has been confirmed, while other factors are being evaluated to confirm the nature of the blast,” it said.
The report added that suicide bombing could not be “ruled out” and investigation by various teams was under way.
Funeral prayers for police martyrs offered
Separately, a collective funeral prayer for police martyrs was offered in Peshawar’s Police Lines area late Monday night with Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Police Chief Mauzzam Jah Ansari, army officers and officials of civil administration in attendance.
After the prayers, the coffins of the martyrs — lined in a row and draped with the national flag — were sent to their respective areas for burial with official protocol.
Speaking on the occasion, KP IGP Mauzzam Jah Ansari said that the KP police was always ready to sacrifice their lives for the protection of people’s lives and property.
“Being a head of this force, I salute the police officials who lost their lives in the deadly blast. These martyrs are our real heroes and their sacrifices will not go in vain,” he said, adding that the bereaved families would not be left alone and their welfare would be the “prime responsibility” of the KP police.
Day of mourning in KP
On Monday night, KP Caretaker Chief Minister Muhammad Azam Khan announced a day of mourning across the province today to condemn the deadliest attack of the year.
“The national flag will be at half-mast across the province,” he said, adding that the government shared the grief of the martyrs’ families.
Khan further assured the aggrieved families that the provincial government would not leave them alone amid testing times in the aftermath of the tragedy.
Sherry calls for implementation of NAP
In a series of tweets on Tuesday morning, Climate Change Minister and PPP leader Sherry Rehman called for the swift implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) and national unity.
“The nation, all political parties and every partner should stand united in the fight against terrorism. The country cannot afford further division and terrorism,” she said.
Rehman said that terrorists got a chance to reorganise due to the “unclear policy of the previous government”.
“Now Imran Khan is saying that his government wanted to resettle the Taliban in KP. Such irresponsible statements are an attempt to create a soft corner in terrorist organisations,” she said, adding that the PPP had serious concerns over the new wave of terrorism before the elections.
Earlier this month, the PTI chief had said that his government had planned to resettle banned TTP fighters in Pakistan’s tribal districts with the help of the Afghan Taliban, but the plan hit a snag owing to the non-cooperation of provinces.
“The government had planned to relocate at least 5,000 TTP fighters and their family members which amount to about 35,000,” he had revealed in a virtual seminar, adding that the plan did not materialise as provinces refused to foot the bill.
Surge in terrorism
Over the past few months, the law and order situation in the country has worsened, with terrorist groups executing attacks with near impunity across the country.
Since the talks with the TTP broke down in November, the militant group has intensified its attacks, particularly targeting the police in KP and areas bordering Afghanistan. Insurgents in Balochistan have also stepped up their violent activities and formalised a nexus with the outlawed TTP.
On January 22, a police vehicle narrowly escaped a bomb blast in Peshawar’s Badaber area. A day earlier, a policeman was martyred and two others were injured when unidentified assailants attacked a police post in Dheri Zardad locality of Charsadda.
On January 14, a deputy superintendent and two constables were martyred when militants, armed with automatic assault weapons, targeted the Sarband police station on the outskirts of the province’s capital, Peshawar late at night.