Explosion in mosque was act of revenge by Taliban commander

The explosion at a Pakistani mosque that killed dozens sparked national outrage. Now the person responsible came forward.

According to official figures, the death toll after the devastating suicide attack in Pakistan has risen to 100. The authorities declared a day of mourning in the affected province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, said the head of the provincial government, Muhammad Azam Khan, as the Pakistani newspaper “Tribune” reported on Tuesday.

In the South Asian country, there was stunned after the attack on a mosque in the city of Peshawar in the north-west. At the same time, it remained unclear how the suicide bomber was able to gain access to the secured zone in the city.

Taliban commander claimed responsibility for attack

The Pakistani Taliban (TTP) distanced themselves from the attack on Monday. A local Taliban commander, who belongs to the TTP’s Jamat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) splinter group, claimed responsibility for the attack. The attack was said to be revenge for the death of a founding member who was killed in neighboring Afghanistan in the summer of 2022.

What is the TTP?

The TTP is an umbrella organization of militant Islamist groups that is said to have several thousand fighters. The military expelled them to Afghanistan between 2008 and 2014. Since the Afghan Taliban took power in Kabul, the TTP has regrouped in its former strongholds on the Afghan border.

The attack is a sign of a renewed national security crisis for Pakistan, expert Madiha Afzal told CNN. The solution must be a military operation against the TTP. “But that is now made more difficult by the fact that the TTP can go across the border into Taliban-controlled Afghanistan.”

Hospitals are asking for blood donations

The suicide bombing happened Monday during midday prayers in a high-security zone in the city of Peshawar, which is also home to many police buildings.

A police officer who survived the attack during midday prayers told Pakistani TV station Geo News: “It was a powerful explosion. There was smoke everywhere.” Rescuers tried to free the people trapped under the rubble. At the time of the attack, more than 300 believers are said to have stayed there.

The attack reminded an officer in the city of past conflicts. “God forbid, I’m afraid those horrible days are back,” said Amjad Khan. “Everyone is afraid here.” Hospitals called for blood donations after the attack. The majority of the victims were police officers, it said from the clinics. It was one of the deadliest attacks against Pakistan’s security forces in recent years.

In Pakistan, the vast majority of the population of more than 230 million people is Muslim. About two million people live in the city of Peshawar.

An ambulance in Peshawar: The explosion occurred during midday prayers.
An ambulance in Peshawar: The explosion occurred during midday prayers. (Which: Muhammad Sajjad)

Prime Minister: “Terrorists want to create fear”

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned the attack during a visit to a local hospital. “Terrorists want to create fear by targeting those who have a duty to defend Pakistan,” he said. Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah announced an investigation.

The German ambassador to Pakistan, Alfred Grannas, also condemned the attack. US Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed his condolences to the bereaved. “Terrorism, for any reason, anywhere, is unjustifiable,” he wrote on Twitter.

“It is particularly despicable that such an attack took place in a place of worship,” said UN Secretary-General António Guterres. Freedom of religion, freedom of belief and the ability to worship in peace are fundamental human rights.

Tense security situation in Pakistan

Peshawar in the border province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa was a region of unrest in Pakistan for a long time – after a military offensive against Islamist terrorist groups in 2014, things have calmed down. In recent years, however, there have been more attacks there. In March 2022, an IS terrorist militia blew himself up in Peshawar, killing more than 60 people.

The tense security situation in Pakistan has also been felt in the capital Islamabad in recent months. There were numerous checkpoints and increased military presence in the metropolis.


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