At least five people were killed while 12 sustained injuries when two suicide blasts rocked a mosque located inside the premises of the Doaba police station in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Hangu on Friday, according to KP interim Information Minister Feroze Jamal.
In a statement, the minister said that two suicide bombers, traveling in a vehicle, managed to reach the mosque but were met with resistance by the police officers stationed at the mosque entrance.
He explained, “One of the attackers was killed in a shootout with the police outside the mosque, while the other managed to penetrate the worship place.”
Jamal went on to mention that two officers were also injured during the exchange of fire, adding that the prompt response of the police led to the evacuation of worshippers upon hearing gunfire.
He emphasised that the damage could have been significantly worse if strong resistance was not shown by the police.
Separately, Hangu District Police Officer Nisar Ahmed confirmed the casualties and injuries to Dawn.com.
He said the first blast took place at the entrance of the police station after which a number of people gathered at the site. “A few minutes later, another blast occurred inside a mosque situated in the premises of the police station.”
DPO Ahmed said the second blast took place during the Friday sermon. “The roof of the mosque caved in due to the impact of the explosion,” the official stated, adding that nearly 30 to 40 people were reported to be stuck under the rubble.
The official further said that heavy machinery had been called to retrieve the bodies and wounded persons.
Rescue 1122 spokesperson Bilal Faizi told Dawn.com that six of the injured individuals were in critical condition and were currently receiving treatment.
Dawn.com’s correspondent present at the site said Rescue 1122 teams and locals in the area are leading the rescue operation.
No one has claimed responsibility for the attack yet.
An eyewitness, Shahid Khan Zaman, told Dawn.com that at the time of the explosion, there were approximately 60 to 70 people inside the mosque.
According to him, the suspected suicide bomber tried to enter through the mosque’s gate, but the resistance from the police allowed most of the people to leave the premises. He added that the second suicide bomber detonated himself inside the mosque.
Peshawar corps commander visits blast site
Peshawar Corps Commander Lieutenant General Hassan Azhar Hayat visited the blast site and expressed the nation’s pride in its martyrs.
He commended the officers for their bravery, acknowledging their role in averting significant destruction.
He also stated, “These individuals (attackers) cannot be regarded as Muslims, let alone humans,” while deeming the attack a regrettable incident.
Meanwhile, in a statement, KP caretaker Chief Minister Azam Khan sought a report on the incident from the police and instructed authorities to expedite the rescue operation.
He further directed the concerned commissioner and deputy commissioner to supervise the rescue activities and assure that best medical treatment was provided to the wounded. The CM also imposed an emergency in hospitals across Hangu.
Separately, former prime minister Shehbaz Sharif expressed his grief at the loss of lives in Hangu blasts, saying such attacks on the sacred day showed “the malevolent intentions of terrorists”.
In a post on X (formerly Twitter), Shehbaz stated that the nation stood united with the law enforcement agencies dedicated to safeguarding the country.
National Assembly Speaker Raja Pervez Ashraf also strongly denounced the twin blasts, saying that targeting the lives of innocent citizens was an abhorrent and cowardly act that warrants the harshest condemnation.
He further noted that such tactics by anti-state elements were aimed at disrupting peace within the country.
KP security situation
Pakistan has witnessed an uptick in terror activities in recent months, especially in KP, after the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) ended its ceasefire with the government in November last year.
On September 6, four security personnel embraced martyrdom and over 16 militants were killed in an operation to repulse militants from the Chitral district.
The pre-dawn attack had targeted check posts in Astui Pass and Jinjiret Koh situated in the south of Lower Chitral, bordering the Afghan province of Nuristan.
Earlier this month, data compiled by the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS) said the number of militant attacks in August was the highest tally for monthly strikes in almost nine years.
There were 99 attacks across the country, the highest number in a single month since November 2014, the report had said.
Addressing the KP Provincial Apex Committee meeting earlier this week, Chief of Army Staff General Asim Munir had vowed that the Pakistan Army would continue to play its role in upholding peace and stability in KP and facilitating a “secure environment for economic development”.
During the meeting, the army chief was briefed about the overall security situation in the province, including initiatives against smuggling, hoarding and drug trafficking, according to a statement issued by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR).