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at least 25 dead and 120 injured

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Europe 1 with AFP
11:26 a.m., January 30, 2023modified to

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12:01 p.m., January 30, 2023

At least 25 people were killed and 120 others injured in an explosion Monday at a mosque inside the police headquarters in Peshawar, northwest Pakistan. The explosion occurred at prayer time. It blew off the roof and a wall of the mosque, an AFP journalist noted, who saw bloody wounded coming out of the destroyed mosque and the bodies of apparently dead people being taken away in ambulances.

Relief operation in progress

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“So far 25 people have been killed and 120 injured (….) Other bodies have been taken out (from the mosque). Right now our number one priority is to rescue people trapped under the rubble,” said Shaffiullah Khan, a senior administrative official in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, of which Peshawar is the capital, told AFP. A vast rescue operation was underway, carried out by firefighters using clearing equipment, according to the AFP journalist.

“We are looking for further information, but the explosion took place at prayer time,” confirmed to AFP Muhammad Ijaz Khan, the chief of police of Peshawar.

Monitored area

The police headquarters in Peshawar is one of the best policed ​​areas in the city. It also houses the premises of various intelligence agencies. According to the police, the explosion occurred in the second row of the faithful assembled for prayer. Bomb squads were on hand to examine the possibility that it was caused by a suicide bomber.

In March 2022, a suicide attack claimed by EI-K, the local branch of the Islamic State (IS) group, in a Shiite mosque in Peshawar left 64 dead. It was the deadliest attack in Pakistan since 2018. According to the police, the suicide bomber was an Afghan national living in Pakistan with his family for several years, who had prepared the attack in Afghanistan.

Deterioration of security

Peshawar, about fifty kilometers from the border with Afghanistan, was ravaged by almost daily attacks during the first half of the 2010s, but security there had improved greatly in recent years. In recent months, the city has mostly seen targeted attacks aimed primarily at security forces.

Pakistan has been facing deteriorating security for some months, especially since the Taliban took power in Afghanistan in August 2021. After several years of relative calm, the attacks have resumed with renewed vigor, carried out by the Pakistani Taliban of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the regional branch of the Islamic State group (EI-K), or separatist groups Baluchis.

Pakistan accuses the Taliban of letting these groups use Afghan soil to plan their attacks, which Kabul has repeatedly denied. The TTP, a movement distinct from that of the new Afghan leaders but which shares common roots with it, has claimed responsibility for several attacks in recent months. One of his worst atrocities, which left a lasting mark on Pakistan’s national consciousness, was the massacre of around 150 people, mostly schoolchildren, in Peshawar in December 2014.

Source: Europe1

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