Peshawar, a city in northwest Pakistan, was hit by a suicide bomber Monday, killing at least 20 people and wounding 96 more. According to Reuters, no one has yet claimed responsibility for the bombing, but the Pakistani Taliban have been blamed for similar suicide attacks in the past.
While some 150 worshippers, including many policemen from nearby police offices, were praying inside, the bomber detonated his suicide vest. According to Zafar Khan, a local police officer, the explosion collapsed the roof of the mosque, which caved in and injured many.
Meena Gul, 38, a police officer, is a survivor who was inside the mosque at the time of the explosion. According to him, he does not know how he escaped unharmed. After the bomb exploded, Gul heard cries and screams. In an attempt to reach worshippers trapped under the rubble, rescuers scrambled to remove mounds of debris from the mosque grounds.
There have been frequent militant attacks in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan. The Pakistani Taliban, known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP, is a separate group but a close ally of the Afghan Taliban, who seized control of neighboring Afghanistan in August 2021 when U.S. and NATO troops were in the final stages of their withdrawal from the country after 20 years of war.
Over the past 15 years, the TTP has waged an insurgency in Pakistan, fighting for stricter enforcement of Islamic laws in the country. They also fight for the release of their members imprisoned by the government, and a reduction in Pakistani military presence in the former tribal areas.