PESHAWAR: A suicide bomber targeted a Shiite Muslim mosque in Hangu on Friday, killing 22 people and 40 wounding dozens as worshippers poured out of weekly prayers, officials said.
According to police, the bomber detonated his explosives as worshippers poured out after Friday (Jummah) prayers in the crowded Pat Bazaar area.
“Most of the dead were coming out of a mosque in the marketplace after Friday prayers when the bomb went off,” a senior police officer said.
The bomber detonated explosives packed into a motorcycle in a narrow lane containing both the Shiite and a Sunni Muslim mosque in the town of Hangu, the latest bloody sectarian attack in a country where such violence is on the rise.
“It was a suicide attack which targeted Shiites but Sunni Muslims also fell victim since their mosque and some shops were also very close to the site,” district police chief Mian Muhammad Saeed told AFP.
“We have found the head of the bomber, who came there on a motorbike,” he said, putting the death toll at 22 with 40 others wounded.
Police said the bomb exploded as Shiites were leaving Friday prayers and Sunnis were going into their mosque for the main weekly sermon.
“The Shiite and Sunni mosques are very close to each other, and the explosion took place just as Shiites were coming out of the mosque and Sunnis were going into their mosque to say Friday prayers,” said police official Imtiaz Shah.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
President Asif Ali Zardari has strongly condemned explosion.Deploring the loss of precious lives in the incident‚ he directed the concerned authorities to provide best possible medical treatment to the injured.
He said such cowardly incidents can not deter the government’s resolve to wipe out the menace of terrorism.
The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Information Minister Mian Iftikhar Hussain Shah also strongly condemned the killing of innocent people in the Hangu blast.