Death toll from Pakistan mosque blast rises to 32 (UPDATED)
At least 32 people, including policemen, were killed and nearly 150 injured after a suspected suicide bomber blew himself up during midday prayers in a mosque in northwestern Peshawar city on Monday, News.Az reports citing Anadolu Agency.
Mohammad Asim, a spokesman for Peshawar's Lady Reading Hospital where the blast victims were shifted, confirmed the number of casualties along with over 140 injured.
Speaking to reporters, Deputy Commissioner Peshawar Shafi Ullah put the number of the dead at 30, besides 147 injured.
Over a dozen of the injured are in critical condition, he added.
The mosque is located inside a police compound lines.
Pakistani Taliban's mother organization, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), in a statement, has claimed responsibility for the deadly attack.
The deceased included several senior police officers and the prayer leader.
Country’s Defense Minister Khawaja Asif told Geo News that the suspected bomber was standing in the first row in the mosque, who blew himself up as soon as the prayer began.
An emergency has been imposed in the hospital with doctors appealing for blood donations.
Footage and still images aired on local broadcasters showed rescue workers carrying injured and dead on stretchers and shifting them into the honking ambulances.
Blood-soaked pieces of clothes, caps, shoes and broken glasses, and wood were strewn in the mosque's main prayer hall, courtyard, and outside the building.
The blast was so huge that it caused the mosque roof to collapse, besides shattering window panes and doors of nearby buildings.
Rescue officials fear that several victims could still be trapped under the debris.
Hundreds of people gathered at the scene to look for their missing family members as rescue workers backed by heavy machinery were struggling to clear the debris.
Peshawa remained a hotbed of terrorist attacks over the past two decades, although the law and order situation has significantly improved during the last few years.
The last major attack in Peshawar took place last year, when a suicide bomber blew himself up inside a Shia mosque, killing 63 people.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and opposition leader Imran Khan have condemned the bombing, calling it a "heinous" act.
Sharif vowed that the perpetrators would be brought to justice.