Tuesday, 21 March, 2023
E-paper

Pakistan mosque suicide bomber 'was in police uniform': police chief

The suicide bomber who killed 101 people inside a mosque at a police headquarters in Pakistan was wearing a police uniform and helmet when he staged the attack, a police chief said Thursday.

"Those on duty didn't check him because he was in a police uniform... It was a security lapse," Moazzam Jah Ansari, the head of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province police force, told a news conference.

Police have a "fair idea" about who the bomber was after matching his head found at the scene with CCTV images.

"There's an entire network behind him," Ansari said, explaining that the bomber had not planned Monday's assault in northwest Peshawar alone.

Hundreds of police were attending afternoon prayers in the police headquarters' mosque when the blast erupted, causing a wall to collapse and crush officers.

Authorities are investigating how a major security breach could happen in one of the most tightly controlled areas of the city, housing intelligence and counter-terrorism bureaus, and next door to the regional secretariat.

It is Pakistan's deadliest assault in several years and the worst since violence began to surge again in the region after the Afghan Taliban's takeover in Kabul in 2021.