PESHAWAR: The provincial government on Tuesday formed two separate teams to probe how the bomber gained access to the highly-secure Police Lines Peshawar, which houses sensitive installations, even as the number of lives lost in the attack climbed to 100.

Speaking in the National Assembly, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said 97 police officials and three civilians lost their lives, whereas 216 people were injured in the attack, while 27 individuals were said to be in critical condition.

Local sources, however, put the total number of injured persons at 221, of which 55 were still admitted at the Lady Reading Hospital, with seven individuals in intensive care.

During his speech in NA, the interior minister said law enforcement agencies were close to nabbing those who facilitated the suicide bombing.

Mr Sanaullah said at least 600-700 families of police officials and civilians live inside the Police Lines and it was suspected that someone from inside the compound might have facilitated the attack.

However, he stressed that these suspicions were merely conjecture at this point.

Toll rises to 100; Sana claims abettors ‘within reach’ of LEAs

The minister confirmed that the attack was a suicide bombing and said the head and body parts of the bomber had been found.

Meanwhile, the rescue operation to rescue the injured from underneath the rubble and remove the bodies of the dead had been completed, he added.

Two JITs

Earlier in the day, KP police chief Moazzam Jah Ansari told journalists that the security lapse which resulted in this attack was being investigated by the city police chief, whereas a JIT, also including intelligence officials, would seek out abettors.

Caretaker CM Azam Khan accompanied the police chief as the latter fielded questions about how the bomber gained access to the mosque and how explosives were brought inside the Red Zone.

The KP IG said that around 10 to 12 kilogrammes of explosives were used in the attack that caused the roof of the mosque to cave in. These explosives were parcelled into the compound in small portions to avoid detection by security personnel deployed at the entrance of the facility.

IG Ansari stated that security checks were limited to the main gate since there was no central command at Police Lines. Speaking about investigations, he said people should not expect the result within 24 hours since it “is a huge inquiry” and would take a lot of time to pore over footage from CCTV cameras covering the past month.

In response to the claims made by Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and Islamic State, the he said the police did not trust the “exaggerated claims” of these outfits, and investigations were being conducted to ascertain which outfit was responsible for the bombing.

“We are looking into it and Jamaatul Ahrar… could be involved but… [it] parted ways [with TTP] after Omar Khalid Khorasani’s death,” IG Ansari said. On the other hand, Mr Sanaullah told lawmakers that the Taliban had claimed responsibility for the bombing.

The caretaker CM stated that people should not lose courage. “Every possible support and assistance would be extended to the bereaved families of martyred and injured,” he said, adding that heirs of the martyrs and injured would be provided with all possible support and a summary for the provision of compensation packages was already approved.

The day-long rescue operation concluded at 2pm on Tuesday. “We rescued the last injured person around 11pm on Monday,” Spokesperson Bilal Faizi told Dawn. He added that 27 corpses were recovered between 1am to 2pm on Tuesday. The bodies of all martyred police personnel were shifted to their native areas, following funeral prayers.

Published in Dawn, February 1st, 2023

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