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Pakistan police try to ID bomber as death toll rises to 62

By AFP - Mar 06,2022 - Last updated at Mar 06,2022

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — The death toll from a suicide attack at a Shiite mosque in northwest Pakistan rose to 62 overnight as police said on Saturday they would try to identify the bomber from two severed feet found at the scene.

Police also released CCTV footage of Friday’s attack showing a man dressed in a traditional shalwar kameez tunic shoot two policemen as he entered the mosque in the Kocha Risaldar area of Peshawar, around 190 kilometres from the capital Islamabad.

He then detonated a suicide vest packed with ball bearings that ripped through the building, crowded with people just moments before Friday prayers were due to start.

The Daesh group have claimed responsibility for the attack.

“There are seven bodies beyond recognition including two amputated feet which we believe are of the bomber,” Peshawar police chief Muhammad Ijaz Khan told AFP.

“We are trying to ascertain identity of the bomber through DNA testing.”

He said the death toll had risen to 62 — including seven children aged below 10.

It was the deadliest attack since July 2018, when a blast at an election rally killed 149 people — and was also claimed by the local chapter of the Daesh group.

Ijaz said officials were checking the biometric data of people who had recently crossed into Pakistan from Afghanistan, where Daesh have previously planned attacks.

Peshawar — just 50 kilometres from the porous border with Afghanistan — was a frequent target of militants in the early 2010s but security has greatly improved in recent years.

Sunni majority Pakistan has recently been battling a resurgence of its domestic chapter of the Taliban, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

A one-month truce last year failed to hold and there are fears the TTP, which has targeted Shiite Muslims in the past, has been emboldened by the success of the Afghan Taliban.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmad said in a video statement that police will “track them down in the next couple of days”.

Members of the local Shiite community, meanwhile, were sending bodies of victims to their home districts for burial.

The blast came on the first day of a cricket Test match in Rawalpindi between Pakistan and Australia, who have not toured the country in nearly a quarter of a century because of security concerns.


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