PESHAWAR: Heavily armed militants stormed a Shia mosque in Hayatabad, Peshawar on Friday, killing at least 19 people in an attack claimed by the Taliban as revenge for the execution of one of their cadres.
Three attackers with grenades, Kalashnikovs and explosive suicide vests struck at the Imamia mosque at the time of the main Friday prayers.
Ban-Ki moon condemns Peshawar attack
Secretary-General Ban-Ki moon has condemned the attack, saying "There is no justification for such crimes."
According to statement issued by the secretary general’s spokesperson, Ban-Ki moon has called on the Pakistani authorities to bring the perpetrators to justice, and urged them to redouble their efforts to protect religious and ethnic minorities, and to combat terrorism in all its forms.
He also extended heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims and to the government and people of Pakistan.
Naveed Abbas, a Pakistan national working with the United Nations Department of Safety and Security was among the 19 people killed.
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Pervaiz Khattak claimed that the attackers came over the Hayatabad boundary wall, Express News reported.
Commenting on the security situation in the country, Khattak said that K-P was in a state of war with all security forces are engaged in a joint operation against militants.
He added that the injured and relatives of the deceased will be given compensation as per the law.
Further, Khattak has also directed that the injured get full attention on treatment.
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claim responsibility for the attack on the mosque.
"It is the revenge of Dr Usman who was hanged last month for attack on the army's headquarters," the TTP spokesperson Muhammad Khorasani said.
The attack started at around 1:30pm and after 2.5 hours, the mosque has been cleared while search operation in the area is still underway.
Express News reports police have cleared the area.
BDS neutralises suicide jacket left behind by the third attacker inside the mosque.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif says the government is determined to eliminate terrorism and extremism from the country, according to Radio Pakistan.
Durrani adds that one of the attackers was tackled by the people when he tried to detonate his explosives.
K-P IG Nasir Durrani, while speaking to the media, says police are collecting evidence while BDS is busy defusing explosives left behind by the terrorists.
Durrani says the entrance of the mosque is highly guarded and the attackers entered from the other side of the mosque.
“The attackers climbed a high wall and cut barbed wires in order to enter the mosque,” he explains.
The IG says he is hopeful about tracing the attackers because of ample evidence left behind the militants.
"One suicide bomber exploded himself in the verandah of the mosque while another was shot dead by police inside the main hall," he said.
"The third was caught by people but was also killed later on."
A search operation is still underway at the site of the blast.
More than 100 people were inside the mosque at the time of the attack for Friday prayers.
Additionally, the area is currently being monitored with the help of helicopters.
Provincial health secretary says emergency has been declared at Hayatabad Medical Complex, Combined Military Hospital and Lady Reading Hospital where all the injured have been shifted.
“There is no shortage of blood or doctors,” he adds.
Political leaders have condemned the tragic attack, including Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain, former president Asif Ali Zardari, and General (retd) Pervaiz Musharraf.
According to preliminary reports, the suicide bomber who blew himself up was between 25 to 30 years of age.
His body is still inside the mosque along with a suicide jacket -- which has not been neutralised as yet -- and hand grenades.
Hayatabad area is around three to four kilometers away from Khyber Agency’s Jamrud area.
The suicide bombers reportedly entered the mosque through a building that was under construction next to the mosque.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) MPA Shaukat Yousafzai says security forces are conducting a search operation in the area to ensure the area is clear.
The minister adds that K-P is fighting a war for Pakistan’s survival and that Operation Zarb-e-Azb has destroyed the terror network to a great extent.
Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeen (MWM) condemns the attack and announces three days of mourning across the country.
Deputy Commissioner, while speaking to Express News, says the attack on the mosque started with firing from a building nearby after which three to four suicide bombers entered the mosque.
He says one suicide bomber blew himself up, and that there is a suicide jacket still present inside the mosque.
The commissioner says the bomb disposal squad has been called in to neutralise the explosives.
Police say the attackers arrived in a car and burnt it before entering the mosque.
Express News screen grab of security personnel at the the mosque, and a car that was blown up due to the impact of the blast. According to police, this vehicle belonged to the attackers.
Pakistan army personnel take position around the mosque, according to Express News.
PTI chief Imran Khan says he wanted to visit the blast site, however, he was denied access due to security reasons.
Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan condemns the attack and asks for a report on the explosion.
SSP Operations says it was a suicide blast and eight people were killed.
He add that three suicide bombers entered the mosque -- one of whom blew himself up.
He further says one suicide jacket was neutralised, while several hand grenades were found inside the mosque.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif directs medical medical authorities to give best possible treatment to victims of the blast.
Further, police officials, while briefly speaking to the media, say they are still investigating the incident and will reveal details as soon as the situation becomes clearer.
Several cars caught fire due the blast, Express News reports.
Express News screen grab of ambulances seen at the site of the blast in Peshawar.
Doctors in Hayatabad Medical Complex confirm that the death toll has reached to 10, and over 60 others have been injured.
Our correspondent Riaz Ahmed tells us that medical personnel are currently removing dead bodies from the mosque.
Further, he confirms it was a suicide blast
Express News screen grab of injured people being carried to ambulances nearby.
Elite Force and Anti-Terrrorism Squad summoned to area of blast.
PTI chief Imran Khan and K-P Chief Minister Pervez Khattak headed to site of the blast
A state of emergency has been imposed in Hayatabad Medical Complex, Express News reports.
Express News screen grab of security personnel arriving at the site of the blast.
Army personnel called in to assist with security.
Three people reportedly killed in the blast. Firing can still be heard.
An eyewitness says a several grenades were thrown as worshippers performed the last sajda, adding that it was a suicide attack.
The eyewitness also claims that the attackers were dressed in police uniforms.
At least 20 people have been reportedly injured in the blast.
According to SSP operations, one of the explosions took place near a mosque.
Express News correspondent Yasir Ali says one of the blasts took place inside Imamia Masjid, shortly after the Friday prayers came to an end.
Further, according to Express News, firing can be heard at the site of the blast.
The injured are being shifted to a hospital nearby, and the area has been cordoned.
The nature of the blast has not yet been ascertained.