13 Feb 2015

At least 19 dead in Pakistan Taliban mosque attack

The Pakistan Taliban claim a suicide attack inside a Shia mosque in the Pakistani city of Peshawar, which has killed 19 people and injured dozens more.

Picture: Pakistani soldiers patrol near the Army Public School after it was reopened following an attack there by Taliban militants in Peshawar on 12 January, 2015.

Police and at least three gunmen exchanged fire at a mosque in Peshawar’s wealthy Hayatabad district in an attack that has led to at least 19 deaths and more than 45 wounded.

The attack, which took place during Friday prayers, ended after one militant blew himself up, one was arrested and another killed in the gunfight.

Television footage (below) showed people running from the scene, some carrying wounded people on their shoulders.

Police chief Mian Saeed said the militants stormed the mosque wearing suicide vests. However, only one attacker managed to detonate his explosives. The other two reportedly threw grenades and shot at worshippers gathered for Friday prayers.

Witness Shahid Hussain told Reuters the worshippers had just finished prayers a number of men wearing military uniforms broke into the mosque and started shooting.

“We had no idea what was going on. One of the attackers then blew himself up and then there was huge smoke and dust all around,” he said.

After Shikarpur and school shooting

Pakistan has been in a state of heightened alert since another attack on a Shia mosque in Sindh province’s Shikarpur district last month left more than 60 people dead.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for a December attack on military school, which killed more than 130 children and prompted Pakistan to step up operations against insurgent hideouts along the border with Afghanistan.

Since those killings, more than 8,000 people have been arrested across the country, and a number of terrorists executed.

The government has also begun a programme to verify all mobile phone sim cards in the country – more than 100 million – to thwart communications.