In this handout photo released by Pakistan's Police Department, security officials gather for funeral prayers of police officer, who were killed in the suicide bombing inside a mosque, in Peshawar, Pakistan, Monday, Jan. 30, 2023. A suicide bomber struck Monday inside a mosque in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar, killing multiple people and wounding scores of worshippers, officials said | Photo: Pakistan's Police Department via AP
PESHAWAR, Pakistan: A Pakistani hospital spokesman says the death toll from the previous day's suicide bombing at a mosque in the northwestern city of Peshawar has risen to 83.
Mohammad Asim, the spokesman, says more bodies were retrieved from the rubble of the mosque overnight and early on Tuesday, and several of those critically injured died in hospital.
“Most of them were policemen,” Asim said of the victims.
Bilal Faizi, the chief rescue official, said rescue teams are still carefully removing the rubble at the site of the mosque — located inside a police compound in a high security zone of the city — as more people are believed trapped inside after the roof caved in from the explosion.
He said the bombing also wounded more than 150 people. It was not clear how the bomber was able to slip into the walled compound in a high-security zone with other government buildings.
Also, on Tuesday mourners were burying the bombing victims at different graveyards in Peshawar and elsewhere.
Authorities have not determined who was behind the bombing.
Shortly after the explosion on Monday, Sarbakaf Mohmand, a commander for the Pakistani Taliban, also known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP, claimed responsibility for the attack in a post on Twitter.
But hours later, TTP spokesperson Mohammad Khurasani distanced the group from the bombing, saying it was not its policy to target mosques, seminaries and religious places, adding that those taking part in such acts could face punitive action under TTP’s policy. His statement did not address why a TTP commander had claimed responsibility for the bombing.
“The sheer scale of the human tragedy is unimaginable. This is no less than an attack on Pakistan,” tweeted Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif, who visited the wounded in Peshawar and vowed “stern action” against those behind the bombing. He expressed his condolences to families of the victims, saying their pain ”cannot be described in words.”
Pakistan, which is mostly Sunni Muslim, has seen a surge in militant attacks since November, when the Pakistani Taliban ended their cease-fire with government forces.