PESHAWAR: Death toll rose to 59 after a suicide bomber blew himself up inside a mosque in Peshawar’s Police Lines area on Monday.
The explosion took place when people gathered in the mosque for afternoon prayers, killing 59 people while more than 157 sustained injuries so far.
Peshawar Commissioner Riaz Mehsood confirmed the casualties, adding that a rescue operation was under way inside the mosque as a number of people were buried under the rubble.
According to security officials, the suicide attacker was present in the front row during the prayers when he exploded himself, injuring dozens of faithful offering Zuhr prayers.
The outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had taken responsibility for the attack.
Soon after the blast, a heavy contingent of police rushed to the spot and cordoned it off. Several ambulances have shifted the injured to the Lady Reading Hospital.
Mohammad Asim, a spokesman for the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar, told Reuters they had received 90 injured, some of them in critical condition.
Reports indicate a part of the mosque was heavily damaged due to the explosion and several people were believed to be under it. Footage showed police and residents scrambling to remove debris from the blast site and carrying wounded people on their shoulders.
The mosque is located in a highly fortified area of the city that houses police offices and residences. Peshawar, which sits at the edge of Pakistan’s tribal districts bordering Afghanistan, is frequently targeted by militant groups including the Pakistani Taliban.