PESHAWAR — At least 19 people were killed and more than 50 others injured in a gun and bomb attack in Peshawar’s Hayatabad area Friday when suicide attackers and gunmen entered an imambargah, police and hospital officials said Friday.
Heavy firing was also reported and residents said a thick cloud of smoke had engulfed the Hayatabad’s Phase V area. Residents said three explosions took place inside the Imamia Masjid Imambargah at the time of Friday prayers.
DawnNews screenshot shows plume of smoke rising from blast site
Security and rescue operation teams were dispatched to the area, with forces cordoning off the site for further inspection.
The attack comes two weeks after a suicide bombing at an imambargah in Shikarpur which killed 61 people, the deadliest sectarian incident to hit the country in nearly two years.
The police and army personnel-led operation at the mosque has ended. Officials say one of the suicide bomber’s jacket has also been diffused.
Shia scholar Arif Hussain said there is no one to control terrorists, adding that these attacks will continue if they are not brought under control.
“They are enemies of the state and enemies of Islam,” he said.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Inspector General Nasir Durrani said attackers did not enter the imambargah through the main gate as security personnel were deployed there.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Mushtaq Ghani has confirmed that 19 people have been killed in the attack on the Peshawar imambargah.
Hayatabad is under heavy surveillance as helicopters hover over the area and dozens of FC troops take position to clear the vicinity.
Efforts to remove bodies and injured worshippers out of the mosque are underway.
Political leaders including Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf Chairman Imran Khan, Jamaat-i-Islami (JI) leader Sirajul Haq, Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) chief Altaf Hussain condemned the attack on the Peshawar imambargah.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Mamnoon Hussain also issued strong condemnations.