Pakistan mosque bombing death toll rises to 36, including 8 children
The death toll from a Taliban suicide bombing at a packed mosque in Pakistan’s restive northwest tribal region has risen to 36 after several of those injured in the attack died in hospitals, officials have said.
The attack targeted the weekly Friday prayers in Mohmand agency, bordering Afghanistan. The bomber shouted ‘Allahu Akbar’ and blew himself up when the prayers were in progress.
The death toll has risen to 36 after more people succumbed to their injuries, said assistant political agent of the agency Haseebur Rehman. Eight children died in the attack.
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Governor Iqbal Zafar Jhagra, who visited the victims at Bajaur Agency’s headquarters hospital in Khar, announced a compensation of 50,000 rupees to the injured from his personal funds.
He ordered health department officials to provide better care to the injured and urged tribal people to continue their support to the government in the fight against militancy.
The bomber came in as prayers were in progress and blew himself up in the main hall. Taliban faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was carried out to avenge the deaths of 13 of its members and arrests of others by a local vigilante force in 2009.
Since 2007 the Government has encouraged vigilante forces comprising tribesmen locally known as peace committees to defend their villages against the Taliban. The governor expressed his determination to wipe out terrorists from the region.
A curfew was imposed in the area yesterday and a search was being conducted to arrest other planners of the attack.
Nearly 200 worshippers were inside the mosque when the bomber struck. Jamat-ul-Ahrar, a splinter group of Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, claimed responsibility for the attack, saying it was carried out to avenge the deaths of 13 of its members in 2009.
Pakistani Taliban routinely targets courts, schools and mosques in the tribal region, where the military has launched a massive operation to flush out the terrorists since 2014.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in a statement expressed grief over the loss of lives and called it a “cowardly attack by terrorists who cannot shatter the government’s resolve to eliminate terrorism from the country.” The attack came on a day when Sharif vowed to continue the war against militancy.
The formation of Pakistani Taliban was announced in December 2007.