The bomber carried out the attack during afternoon prayers when the mosque was packed with worshipers and most of the victims were reportedly police officers from a nearby station.

Police estimates between 300 and 400 officers usually attended prayers at the mosque where the blast took place.
Police estimates between 300 and 400 officers usually attended prayers at the mosque where the blast took place. (AP)

A suicide bomber struck a crowded mosque inside a police compound in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, killing at least 80 people and wounding more than 150 others.

Overnight, at least nine bodies were recovered as rescuers sifted through the rubble of the mosque's collapsed wall and roof.

Muhammad Asim Khan, a spokesman for the main hospital in Peshawar, told AFP news agency that 83 people had been killed, with the death toll rising as more bodies arrived from the scene.

"This morning we are going to remove the last part of the collapsed roof so we can recover more bodies, but we are not hopeful of reaching any survivors," Bilal Ahmad Faizi, a spokesperson for the rescue organisation 1122, said.

Many of the injured were taken to the Lady Reading Hospital after a bomber detonated his suicide vest on Monday as worshipers, including many policemen, were praying inside the mosque.

Peshawar police chief Muhammad Ijaz Khan, who estimated between 300 and 400 officers usually attended prayers at the mosque, had earlier said many policemen were "buried under the rubble."

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'Black smoke'

Sarbakaf Mohmand, a commander for the Pakistani Taliban, initially claimed responsibility for the attack on Twitter. However, the main spokesman for Tehrik-i-Taliban (TTP) later denied the militant group was responsible for the bombing.

At least 20 of the slain police officers were later buried after a prayer ceremony, with coffins lined up in rows and draped in the Pakistan flag.

The impact of the explosion collapsed the roof of the mosque, which caved in and injured many, Zafar Khan, a Peshawar police officer, told AP news agency.

Shahid Ali, a policeman who survived, said the explosion took place seconds after the imam started prayers.

"I saw black smoke rising to the sky. I ran out to save my life," the 47-year-old told AFP.

Provinces around the country announced they were on high alert after the blast, with checkpoints ramped up and extra security forces deployed, while in the capital Islamabad, snipers were deployed on buildings and at city entrance points.

"Terrorists want to create fear by targeting those who perform the duty of defending Pakistan," Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said in a statement.

READ MORE: Three police officers dead after terrorist attack in northwest Pakistan


Prime Minister Sharif in a statement condemned the bombing and ordered authorities to ensure the best possible medical treatment for the victims. He also vowed “stern action" against those who were behind what he called a suicide attack.

Former Prime Minister Imran Khan also condemned the bombing, calling it a "terrorist suicide attack" in a Twitter posting.

"My prayers & condolences go to victims families," said the ex-premier. "It is imperative we improve our intelligence gathering & properly equip our police forces to combat the growing threat of terrorism."

A statement from Türkiye's foreign ministry "in the strongest possible terms condemned the heinous act of terrorism."

Suspicion in such attacks falls most often on the Pakistani Taliban, who have in the past claimed similar bombings.

The Pakistani Taliban, are known as Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan or TTP, are a separate group but also a close ally of the Afghan Taliban, who seized power in neighbouring Afghanistan in August 2021 as US and NATO troops were in the final stages of their pullout from the country after a 20-year invasion.

Insurgency in Pakistan

The TTP has waged an insurgency in Pakistan over the past 15 years, fighting for stricter enforcement of Islamic laws in the country, the release of their members who are in government custody and a reduction of Pakistani military presence in the country’s former tribal regions.

Since the Taliban surged back to power in Afghanistan, Islamabad has accused them of failing to secure their mountainous border, allowing fighters to flit back and forth to stage attacks and escape capture.

Over the first 12 months of Taliban rule in Afghanistan, Pakistan witnessed a 50 percent surge in militant attacks, focused in the western border provinces, according to the Pak Institute for Peace Studies (PIPS).

Last year, a suicide attack inside a mosque in Peshawar’s Kocha Risaldar area claimed 56 lives.

Detectives said the March 2022 Daesh bomber in Peshawar was an Afghan exile who had returned home to train for the attack.

Peshawar was also the site of a 2014 massacre by the TTP, who raided a school for children of army personnel and killed nearly 150 people, most of them pupils.

READ MORE: Scores killed in Pakistan mosque attack, Daesh claims responsibility

Source: TRTWorld and agencies