Pakistan Suicide Attack Leaves At Least 56 Dead And 195 Injured
A suicide attack has rocked Peshawar, Pakistan today and left at least 56 dead with another 195 injured in the blast that took place at a Shia mosque during Friday prayers.
A suicide bombing at a Shia mosque in Pakistan's northwestern city of Peshawar during Friday prayers has killed at least 56 people and injured 195, according to hospital officials and local police.
The already high death toll is expected to rise significantly as many of those injured are still in critical condition.
The victims were showered with shrapnel and struck with flying debris, several of those injured have had to have limbs amputated.
Pakistan's prime minister, Imran Khan, has publically condemned the attack and instructed authorities to provide immediate care to those wounded and carry out a thorough investigation into the incident.
No group has immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, an attack that is one of the deadliest in years on the country's Shia minority.
Police officer Mohammad Sajjad Khan said after the attack, "We are in a state of emergency and the injured are being shifted to the hospital, we are investigating the nature of the blast but it seemed to be a suicide attack."
Local authorities have said that the violence began when an armed attacker opened fire on officers outside the Kucha Risaldar mosque in Peshawar's old city, where worshippers had gathered for Friday prayers.
Police have said that one officer was killed in the gunfight whilst another was wounded. The attacker is then said to have run inside the mosque and detonated a suicide vest.
Police official, Moazzam Jah Ansari said that the attacker had an explosive device strapped to his body that was packed with 5kg of explosives.
The Associated Press said that according to CCTV footage the bomb was hidden beneath a large black shawl that covered most of the body of the attacker.
Mr Ansari explained how the device was packed with ball bearings, a type of bomb that is designed to inflict as much damage and suffering as possible, spraying a large area with deadly projectiles.
After the bombing, ambulances flooded the congested narrow streets taking the injured victims to the Lady Reading Hospital.
Crowds of relatives gathered outside the hospital trying to find out the fate of their family members.
At the time of the attack, Shayan Haider was about to enter the mosque when he recalled how a huge explosion threw him to the ground, he said, "I opened my eyes and there was dust and bodies everywhere."
Sher Ali, a retired army officer who was inside the mosque when the attack happened was struck and wounded by flying shrapnel. He made a passionate plea to the government of Pakistan for better protection for the Shias of the country, who have been the victims of repeated attacks.
Mr Ali said, "What is our sin? What have we done? Aren't we citizens of this country?
In recent months Pakistan has seen a significant increase in violent attacks, with dozens of military personnel being killed at army outposts along the border with Afghanistan. The Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility for many of them.
Pakistan has urged the new rulers of Afghanistan to hand over Pakistani Taliban militants who have been carrying out their attacks from Afghanistan.
The Afghan Taliban has said that it will not allow its territory to be used to stage attacks against anyone, but so far they have not handed over any wanted Pakistani militants.