At least 25 worshippers are killed as a mosque collapses when a suicide attacker shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ detonates a huge bomb during Friday prayers in Pakistan
- Suicide bomber stormed into mosque in tribal area bordering Afghanistan
- Attacker shouted ‘Allahu Akbar before detonating an explosive device
- More than 35 worshippers in packed mosque were also injured in blast
- Part of building, including its veranda, collapsed crushing people below
At least 25 people have been killed after a suicide bomber shouting ‘Allahu Akbar’ attacked a mosque in Pakistan during Friday prayers.
More than 35 worshippers were injured when a huge blast destroyed the building, in the Mohmand tribal area of the country’s north west, bordering Afghanistan.
According to eyewitnesses, the mosque was packed with people during Friday prayers and the attacker shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ before detonating an explosive vest.
Part of the building, including its veranda collapsed in the blast, crushing worshipers below and bodies are still being hauled out of the rubble, officials said.
‘The suicide bomber was in crowded mosque, he shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’, and then there was a huge blast,’ Naveed Akbar, deputy administrator of Mohmand agency, told reporters.
Local tribal elder Haji Subhanullah Mohmand said the attack may have been carried out by Islamist militants seeking revenge after local tribesmen gathered a volunteer force and killed one and captured another insurgent.
‘It seems to have enraged the militants and they got their revenge by carrying out a suicide attack in a mosque today,’ Mohmand said.
Pakistan’s frontier regions, which are deeply conservative and hard to access due to rough terrain, have long been the sanctuary of fighters from al Qaeda, the Taliban and other militant groups.
In 2014 the army launched a major operation in other parts of FATA including North and South Waziristan against insurgents who routinely attacked government officials and civilians.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the bombing and said the ‘attacks by terrorists cannot shatter the government’s resolve to eliminate terrorism from the country.’
Security in Pakistan has improved in recent years – the military says ‘terrorist incidents’ dropped from 128 in 2013 to 74 last year – but Islamist extremists continue to stage major attacks.
A bombing of lawyers in the city of Quetta killed 74 people last month, an attack claimed by both the Islamic State and Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, a breakaway faction of the Pakistani Taliban.
Jamaat-ur-Ahrar also claimed the Easter Sunday bombing in a park in the eastern city of Lahore that killed 72 people, many of them children.
Most of the myriad militant groups that stage attacks inside Pakistan seek to overthrow the government to establish an Islamic theocracy and impose a stricter interpretation of the religion than is practised in much of the country.
Other armed groups based in the country target neighbouring Afghanistan and Indian-controlled Kashmir.