Pakistani police did not rule out the possibility that the suspect was assisted by security personnel to carry out the mosque bombing that killed more than 100 people.
Ijaz Khan, police chief of Peshawar city, capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, northwest Pakistan, said today that many suspects have been arrested in connection with the January 30 mosque bombing that killed more than 100 people.
According to him, police are investigating how the bomber entered the mosque in a heavily guarded area and have not ruled out the possibility of an insider inside the security forces. Officials said the attacker was in the first row of 300-400 policemen attending the vigil. The suspect detonated a bomb belt on his body shortly after the prayer service began.
Moazzam Jah Ansari, commander of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial police force, said that the bomber entered the mosque as a guest, carrying 10-12 kg of explosives hidden around him.
Ansari said an armed group with links to the Pakistani Taliban could be behind the attack.
The mosque where the bombing occurred is located in a high-security area where the police and counter-terrorism unit of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province are located. Most of the victims were policemen.
By the evening of January 31, the rescue force ended the search and rescue operation, bringing the victims’ bodies out of the rubble and the survivors to the hospital.
Authorities have not identified the individual or organization behind the bombing. Sarbakaf Mohmand, commander of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an Islamist armed group banned in Pakistan, initially claimed responsibility. However, Muhammad Khorasani, a spokesman for TTP, later denied, explaining that the act of attacking a mosque is unacceptable according to Islamic regulations.
The White House called the attack “unconscionable”, while United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres described the violence as “disgusting”. Pakistan is struggling due to a severe economic downturn and political turmoil ahead of elections in October.
Huyen Le (Theo Reuters)