Pakistan: at least 30 dead in an attack in a mosque in Peshawar

At least thirty people were killed in an attack in a Shiite mosque in Peshawar, in northwestern Pakistan, during Friday prayers, we learned from a hospital source.

“I can confirm that at least 30 people are dead and 56 others are injured,” Muhammad Asim Khan, spokesman for Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar, told AFP.

The mosque, frequented by Shiites, is located on a narrow street in the Kocha Risaldar district, near the historic Qissa Khwani bazaar. The explosion occurred a few minutes before the beginning of the prayer.

“I was just outside the mosque when I saw a man shoot two policemen before entering the mosque. A few seconds later, I heard a big bang,” witness Zahid Khan told AFP.

Shiraz Ali, a resident of Peshawar, told AFP that he was coming for the weekly high prayer, when he “saw a man dressed in black shoot a policeman and then enter the mosque”. The AFP reporter saw dismembered bodies at the scene.

Peshawar, located about fifty kilometers from the border with Afghanistan, had been ravaged by almost daily attacks during the first half of the 2010s, but security had greatly improved there in recent years.

Pakistan has been confronted for several weeks with the return in force of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Pakistani Taliban, galvanized by the coming to power of the Taliban in August in Afghanistan.

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 since the beginning of the year, including one against a police checkpoint in Islamabad, during which one policeman was killed and two injured.

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Shiites in Pakistan have also in the past been targeted by the Islamic State group. Its regional branch, the Islamic State-Khorasan (EI-K), has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks in the country in recent years, such as the assassination in early 2021 of ten Hazara minors, an ethnic Shiite group, in the province of Balochistan. (South West).

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