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Pakistan

Web Desk
October 27, 2020

Peshawar blast: At least eight dead, more than 100 wounded, say KP police

Pakistan

Web Desk
Tue, Oct 27, 2020

PESHAWAR: A powerful explosion at a seminary in the provincial capital's Dir Colony claimed the lives of at least eight people and wounded more than 70 others, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police chief Sanaullah Abbasi and hospital officials said Tuesday.

Police and rescue teams reached Madrassah Zubairiyyah and launched a rescue operation at the crime scene. According to Rescue 1122, the injured were shifted to Lady Reading Hospital (LRH), where several of them were said to be in a critical condition.

There were nearly 1,000 children in the seminary at the time of the blast. Majority of the victims were children and instructors as the blast took place during classes at the religious school.

According to AFP, teachers and boys as young as seven were among the wounded.

"Most of those killed and injured were hit by the ball bearings and some were badly burnt," hospital official Muhammad Asim Khan told the publication, adding that the all of the deceased were men aged between 20 and 40. 

Bomb in a bag

KP police said the initial investigation revealed it to be an improvised explosive device (IED) planted inside a bag.

Geo News correspondent Shakeel Farman Ali reported that police told him a man had walked into the seminary and left a bag inside.

Security officials examine the site of a blast at a religious school in Peshawar, Pakistan, October 27, 2020. AFP/Abdul Majeed

Due to the number of children in the main hall, "there was not enough space so they were all standing very close together inside the hall".

However, the cleric addressing the session in the seminary's main hall, Maulana Rahimullah, miraculously survived.

An LRH official said the hospital received seven bodies and 70 injured after the incident.

Another 36 were shifted to Naseerullah Babar Memorial Hospital.

Attack comes days after NACTA warning

No group has yet claimed responsibility of the attack, which comes a couple of days after a remote-controlled bomb exploded at the Hazarganji fruit market in Balochistan's capital, Quetta, killing at least three people died and injuring seven.

The blast also comes just a few days after the Islamabad-based National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) had issued a threat alert for Peshawar and Quetta, saying the banned militant outfit Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was planning terrorist activities in the two cities.

In its statement, it had said the TTP aimed to target religious and political parties in bomb attacks and suicide bombings.

Witnesses describe bombing

Reports on social media showed the lesson at the seminary was being broadcast live on Facebook when the blast ripped through the main hall some time after 8am. Footage run on TV indicated the extent of the damage caused to the school.

Speaking to TIME, 24-year-old student Mohammad Saqib who survived the blast said there was a deafening sound during Maulana Rahimullah's lesson, wherein he was explaining verses from the Quran. Afterwards, there were cries of pain and he saw his blood-stained fellows crying for help.

"Someone helped me and put me in an ambulance and I was brought to hospital," said Saqib, who had bandages on both arms but was declared stable.

Another witness, Saeedullah, also 24, told TIME there were up to 500 students in the main hall at the time of the blast and that teachers were also among the injured.

'Patients at other hospitals' as well

KP Health Minister Taimur Khan Jhagra confirmed the death toll, saying there were "patients at other hospitals, but the majority are being treated at LRH".

He quoted the CCPO as saying it was "confirmed that preliminary onsite investigations show explosives being used".

"Let us pray for the lives lost, and redouble our efforts to maintain the safety and security of this beautiful country, province and city," the minister added.

PM assures terrorists to be 'brought to justice'

Prime Minister Imran Khan offered condolences to the victims families and prayed for the early recovery of those injured in the Peshawar blast.

"I want to assure my nation we will ensure the terrorists responsible for this cowardly barbaric attack are brought to justice" as soon as possible, he said on Twitter.

He also expressed "regret over the loss of precious lives in the blast".

KP Labour and Culture Minister Shaukat Ali Yousafzai, while condemning the incident, said Chief Minister Mahmood Khan had summoned a meeting to discuss the security situation. He revealed that Quetta and Peshawar were on threat alert following which security had been heightened.

Yousufzai added that the seminary staff and children were soft targets. "Terrorists always aim for soft targets. This area has been peaceful for a long time," he said.

Special Advisor to KP CM on Information Kamran Bangash regretted the incident and said the injured will be provided all medical facilities. "This is the second biggest terrorist attack after the APS tragedy," he said.

Bangash noted that there was no security officials posted at the seminary. “The National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) had issued a threat alert for religious schools,” he recalled.

Ministers, Opposition offer condolences

Information Minister Shibli Faraz also strongly condemned the attack, promising to "reduce to dust those with the nefarious intentions to destablise the country".

"Attackers on educated students have nothing to do with humanity," he said on Twitter. "We express our heartfelt condolences to the families of the martyrs and pray for speedy recovery of the injured."

Science and Technology Minister Fawad Chaudhry noted how children in Peshawar had "once again been targeted by the vile and wretched enemy" and that "in this war, Pakistan's soldiers, politicians, scholars, teachers, lawyers, doctors, people from all walks of life have given their blood".

"We will end Pakistan's war [against terror] no matter what," Chaudhry vowed.

Punjab Chief Minister Usman Buzdar said he was "saddened" over the Peshawar blast "where terrorists in their desperation have attacked innocent children".

"My prayers for those injured and martyred. May Allah give their families the strength to bear this tragedy," he said on Twitter.

Azerbaijan's Ambassador to Pakistan Ali Alizada condemned the "heinous terrorist attack".

"Thoughts and prayers are with bereaved families and those who injured. Allah bless," he wrote on Twitter.

The European Union's (EU) Ambassador to Pakistan, Androulla Kaminara, said she was "totally horrified" and categorically condemned the attack.

"My heart goes out to the parents whose children have been hurt and prayers for speedy recovery. Condolences 4 lives lost," she said on Twitter.

On the other hand, PPP Chairperson Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari strongly condemned the terrorist attack in Peshawar, saying: "Those who target innocent civilians have no religion; they are beasts. Terrorists cannot shake the resolve of the Pakistani nation!

Bilawal called for the authorities to ensure the best medical treatment for those injured in the incident and expressed sympathy and solidarity with the families of those martyred in the blast.

The PPP boss also underscored his concern over the rising incidence of terrorism in Pakistan.

PML-N Vice-President Maryam Nawaz, while terming the Peshawar blast a "heartbreaking incident", condoled with the victims and their families.

"The loss of children in particular has been devastating. It is impossible to imagine and alleviate the grief of the mothers whose laps have become barren," she added.

PML-N Supremo Nawaz Sharif "strongly condemned the blast at Peshawar Madrassa", according to a Twitter post by the party.

Party secretary-general and former interior minister, Ahsan Iqbal, said he was "very sorry to hear about the blast & casualties in Peshawar".

Worshippers offer zuhr prayers hours after blast

Zuhr prayers were offered at the Peshawar seminary hit by the horrific blast earlier today.

Worshippers gathered to wash and clean the mosque before offering zuhr prayers inside.

Separately, in an update from the facility's officials, four of the people injured in the blast were discharged from Khyber Teaching Hospital (KTH).