Pakistan mosque blast reflects ‘security lapses’, say officials

Death toll rises to 100 as rescue teams continue to search for people said to be trapped inside

A suicide bombing that killed dozens of police officers at a mosque in a government compound in northwest Pakistan reflects “security lapses”, officials have said.

The death toll rose to 100 on Tuesday, with more than 225 other people injured, many of whom remain in a critical condition in hospital.

The blast, which ripped through a Sunni mosque inside a major police facility in the city of Peshawar, was one of the deadliest attacks on Pakistani security forces in recent years.

More than 300 worshippers were praying in the mosque, with more approaching, when the bomber set off his explosives vest on Monday morning, officials said.


The explosion blew off part of the roof, and what was left soon caved in, injuring many more, according to police officer Zafar Khan.

Rescuers had to remove mounds of debris to reach worshippers still trapped under the rubble.

More bodies were retrieved overnight and early on Tuesday, according to Mohammad Asim, a government hospital spokesman in Peshawar, and several of those who were critically injured died.

“Most of them were policemen,” he said of the victims.

Chief rescue official Bilal Faizi said rescue teams were still working at the site on Tuesday as more people were believed to be trapped inside.

Counter-terrorism police are investigating how the bomber was able to reach the mosque, which is in a walled compound, inside a high-security zone with other government buildings.

Ghulam Ali, governor of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, of which Peshawar is the capital, said: “Yes, it was a security lapse.”

Talat Masood, a retired army general and senior security analyst said Monday’s suicide bombing showed “negligence”.

Kamkan Bangash, a provincial secretary general with opposition party Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, called for an investigation and said Pakistan will continue to face political instability as long as the current government is in power.

Prime minister Shahbaz Sharif visited a hospital in Peshawar after the bombing and vowed “stern action” against those behind the attack.

“The sheer scale of the human tragedy is unimaginable. This is no less than an attack on Pakistan,” he tweeted.

Authorities have not determined who was behind the bombing. – AP