Peshawar police chief Ijaz Khan said the armed attackers opened fire on the police deployed outside the mosque. One policeman was killed in the gunfight with the attackers. Later, one of the attackers entered the mosque and detonated a bomb after a shooting spree. At least 150 worshipers were inside the mosque at the time of the suicide attack.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but both ISIS and outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistani have recently carried out similar attacks in areas near the Pakistan-Afghan border.
In recent months, Pakistan has experienced a sharp increase in such armed attacks. Dozens of military personal have been killed in scores of attacks in different parts of the country.
Shayan Haider said he was preparing to enter the mosque when a powerful explosion threw him to the street.
“I opened my eyes and there was dust and bodies every where.”
At the Lady Reading Hospital’s emergency department, there was chaos as doctors struggled to move the wounded into operating theaters. Hundreds of relatives gathered outside the emergency department, many of them wailing and beating their chests pleading for information about their loved ones.
Rescue 1122 and other volunteers collected the bodies of worshipers in the Kucha Risaldar Mosque, ambulances rushed through congested narrow streets carrying the wounded to the Lady Reading Hospital.
Many political leaders, representatives of the provincial government also visited the hospital and issued instructions to ensure proper treatment of the injured.
Provincial government’s spokesman Barrister Muhammad Ali Saif told ChitralToday that terrorists wanted to weaken the nation through such attacks.
“By creating religious sectarianism in the country, they want us to fight among ourselves. But we are all one and will fight terrorism together,” he added.