Published: 2023-01-30 17:41
Last Updated: 2023-03-21 10:18
Police officers were among the 33 killed and 150 wounded in a blast at a mosque inside a highly sensitive Pakistani police headquarters on Monday, prompting the government to put the country on high alert.
The attack happened during afternoon worship in the provincial capital of Peshawar, close to former tribal areas that border Afghanistan where militancy has been steadily rising.
A frantic rescue mission was underway at the mosque, which had an entire wall and some of its roof blown out by the force of the blast.
"Many policemen are buried under the rubble," said Peshawar police chief Muhammad Ijaz Khan, who estimated between 300 and 400 officers usually attended prayers at the mosque.
"Efforts are being made to get them out safely," he said.
Bloodied survivors emerged limping from the wreckage, while bodies were ferried away in ambulances as the rescue operation continued.
"It's an emergency situation," Muhammad Asim Khan, a spokesman for the main hospital in Peshawar told AFP, putting the death toll at 33.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa governor Ghulam Ali put the death toll at 28 and 150 wounded, most of them policemen.
The police headquarters in Peshawar is in one of the most tightly controlled areas of the city, housing intelligence and counter-terrorism bureaus, and is next door to the regional secretariat.
The country was put on high alert after the blast, with checkpoints ramped up and extra security forces deployed, while in the capital Islamabad snipers were deployed on buildings and at city entrance points.
"Terrorists want to create fear by targeting those who perform the duty of defending Pakistan," said Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in a statement.
"Those fighting against Pakistan will be wiped out from the face of earth."
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