Terror attack by TTP bangs Peshawar peace

-Over 50 martyred, more than 150 injured in terror blast inside Police Line Mosque
-PM, Imran, FM other political leadership condemn the bloodbath in KP
-PM, Army Chief, Federal Ministers inquire health condition of injured in LRH
-Shehbaz calls for adopting all-inclusive strategy on KP security situation, vows to implement NAP with ‘full force’
-PTI Chief urges government to fully equip KP’s Police, CTD to counterterrorism

PESHAWAR: A blast inside a mosque shook Peshawar’s Police Lines area on Monday, with officials saying that at least 59 people were martyred and 157 were injured.
Lady Reading Hospital (LRH) spokesman Mohammad Asim confirmed the number of casualties as efforts to rescue those trapped under the rubble continued into the night.
Peshawar Commissioner Riaz Mehsood said a rescue operation was under way inside the mosque as a number of people were buried under the rubble. “An emergency has been imposed at hospitals across the city and injured persons are being provided the best medical facilities,” the senior official said.
The outlawed Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the blast. Speaking to the media, Peshawar Capital City Police Officer (CCPO) Muhammad Ijaz Khan said that the roof of the mosque collapsed after the blast. “A number of jawans are still stuck under the rubble and rescuers are trying to pull them out.”
He said the main hall of the mosque — which had a capacity of 250 to 300 people — had collapsed but the rest of the building was still intact. In response to a question about the nature of the blast, the official said: “The smell of explosives has been detected but it is too early to say anything substantial.”
Khan said between 300 to 400 police personnel were present in the area at the time of the blast. “It is apparent that a security lapse occurred,” the CCPO told the media.
He added that the bodies and injured persons had been moved to the LRH. Standing alongside Khan, KP Governor Haji Ghu-lam Ali condemned the blast and urged the people of Peshawar to donate blood for the injured, saying that it would be a “huge fa-vour for the police”. PM Shehbaz and Chief of Army Staff Asim Munir visited Peshawar and were briefed on the blast. Information Minister Marri-yum Aurangzeb, Defence Minister Khawaja Asif and Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah were also present.
During the visit, the premier was given a briefing by the Peshawar Corps Commander while the provincial police chief present-ed an initial report on the blast. The prime minister was also shown CCTV footage of the blast.
PM Shehbaz later visited LRH to inquire about the injured. Taking to Twitter after his visit, the prime minister said: “Just re-turned from Peshawar. The sheer scale of the human tragedy is unimaginable.
“This is no less than an attack on Pakistan. The nation is overwhelmed by a deep sense of grief. I have no doubt terrorism is our foremost national security challenge,” he said.
“While the pain of the grieving families cannot be described in words, I express my heartfelt condolences and most sincere sympathies. My message to the perpetrators of yesterday’s despicable incident is that you can’t underestimate the resolve of our people,” he said.
In a statement issued later in the day, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif strongly condemned the blast and said that the attackers behind the incident “have nothing to do with Islam”. “Terrorists want to create fear by targeting those who perform the duty of de-fending Pakistan,” he said.
The premier paid tribute to the martyrs and promised that their sacrifices would not be in vain. “The entire nation is standing united against the menace of terrorism.” Shehbaz said he would ensure that “the National Action Plan (NAP) is implemented in full force” and with complete comprehensiveness.
PM Shehbaz also said that a comprehensive strategy would be adopted to counter the deteriorating law and order situation in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and the federal government will help provinces in increasing their anti-terrorism capacity.
Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, while condemning the attack, said that “terrorist incidents before local and general elections were meaningful”. A tweet by PPP’s media cell quoted Bilawal as saying that strict action would be taken against terror-ists, their patrons and their facilitators.
Bilawal stressed that the National Action Plan was the only solution to the issue of terrorism and promised that it would be “im-plemented strictly”. He also called party workers to donate their blood to save the lives of the injured.
Later in the day, Bilawal took to his own Twitter to condemn the attack. “Deeply saddened at loss of innocent lives; my heartfelt condolences to the affected families. Such cowardly acts will not deter our resolve against acts of terrorism in Pakistan,” he said.
PTI Chairman Imran Khan also strongly condemned the “terrorist suicide attack” in Peshawar and expressed sympathies with the families of the victims. “It is imperative we improve our intelligence gathering and properly equip our police forces to combat the growing threat of terrorism,” he added.
Ex-human rights minister Shireen Mazari termed the bomber’s “access to a central area of the provincial capital” as another “in-tel failure”. “Our police are frontline defenders against terrorists, especially in urban areas and need better resources, including equipment,” she added.
PTI’s Shibli Faraz condemned the attack but said the government had “failed to maintain security of its citizens”. The US em-bassy in Islamabad extended its deepest condolences to the families of the victims. “The United States stands with Pakistan in con-demning all forms of terrorism,” the mission said on Twitter. –Agencies