At least 100 killed and 221 injured when suicide bomber hit a mosque inside police headquarters in Peshawar.
Funerals were held across the northwestern province of Pakistan for those killed in a suicide attack at a mosque in Peshawar city, as the death toll rose to 100 and search operations ended.
Between 300 and 400 policemen had gathered for afternoon prayers at a mosque in police headquarters compound on Monday when an entire wall and most of the roof were blown out, showering rubble on officers.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province's government declared a day of mourning across the province on Tuesday.
“The Provincial Government with a deep sense of grief and sorrow announces Tuesday as a day of mourning throughout the Province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” said a notification.
“The National Flag of Pakistan shall fly at half-mast throughout the Province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa," it added.
On Tuesday evening rescuers ended a marathon operation which saw them pry survivors and corpses out of the wreck of the mosque, rushing those who could be saved to hospitals.
Low-level militancy, often targeting security checkpoints, has been steadily rising in the areas near Peshawar that border Afghanistan where Taliban seized control of Kabul in August 2021.
According to the initial investigations, he further said, 10-12 kilograms of explosive material was used in the bombing.
READ MORE: Scores dead, dozens injured in Pakistan mosque suicide attack
The attack raised alarm among officials over a major security breach at a time when the Pakistani Taliban, the main anti-government militant group, has stepped up attacks, particularly targeting the police and the military.
In a televised speech to parliament Tuesday, Defense Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif accused the Pakistani Taliban, known by the acronym TTP, of carrying out the attack, saying they were operating from neighbouring Afghan territory and demanding the Afghan Taliban take action against them.
A TTP commander earlier claimed responsibility, but a spokesman for the group later distanced the TTP from the carnage, saying it was not its policy to attack mosques.
Counter-terrorism police are investigating how the bomber was able to reach the mosque, which is inside a walled-off police headquarters compound called Police Lines.
The compound is located in a heavy security district of Peshawar that includes other government buildings.
“Yes, it was a security lapse,” said Ghulam Ali, the provincial governor in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
Akhtar Ali Shah, a former regional interior secretary once based in Peshawar, said it “was not a spur-of-the-moment attack".
“It was the handiwork of a well-organized group,” he told The Associated Press.
He said those behind the attack must have had inside help to gain access to the compound and probably entered it several times for reconnaissance or even to plant explosives ahead of time.
“It’s not a security lapse, it’s a security breach,” he said.
“From all entry points, there are multiple layers of security you have to cross” with ID checks.