Pakistan mosque bombing leaves at least 56 dead

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At least 56 people were killed and 194 wounded in a suicide bombing during Friday prayers at a Shiite mosque in Peshawar, northwestern Pakistan, a hospital source said.

"A total of 56 people were killed and 194 were injured. Among the injured are 50 critically ill patients," said Muhammad Asim Khan, a spokesman for Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar.

The mosque, frequented by Shiites, is located on a narrow street in the Kocha Risaldar district, near the historic Qissa Khwani bazaar. The explosion occurred a few minutes before the beginning of the sentence.

"I was just outside the mosque when I saw a man shoot two police officers before entering the mosque. A few seconds later I heard a big bang," a witness said.

Shiraz Ali, a Peshawar resident, said he was on his way to the big weekly prayer when he "saw a man dressed in black shoot a policeman and then enter the mosque." They saw dismembered bodies at the scene.

Peshawar, located about fifty kilometers from the Afghan border, had been devastated by almost daily attacks during the first half of the 2010s, but security had greatly improved in recent years.

For several weeks now, Pakistan has been facing the return in force of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), the Pakistani Taliban, galvanized by the Taliban's rise to power in August in Afghanistan.

The TTP, a movement different from that of the new Afghan leaders but which shares roots with it, has claimed responsibility for several attacks since the beginning of the year, including one against a police checkpoint in Islamabad, in which one policeman was killed and two wounded. .

Shiites in Pakistan have also been targeted by the Islamic State group in the past. Its regional arm, the Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K), has claimed responsibility for numerous attacks in the country in recent years, such as the murder in early 2021 of ten minors from the Hazara, a Shia ethnic group, in the province of Baluchistan ( Southeast).

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