PESHAWAR: A powerful bomb blast at a Madrassa in Peshawar’s Dir Colony claimed the lives of at least seven people and wounded more than 70 others, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police chief Sanaullah Abbasi and hospital officials said Tuesday.
Police and rescue teams reached Madrassah Zubairiyyah and launched a rescue operation at the crime scene. According to Rescue 1122, the injured were shifted to Lady Reading Hospital (LRH), where several of them were said to be in a critical condition.
There were nearly 1,000 children in the seminary at the time of the blast. Majority of the victims were children and instructors as the blast took place during classes at the religious school.
According to AFP, teachers and boys as young as seven were among the wounded.
“Most of those killed and injured were hit by the ball bearings and some were badly burnt,” hospital official Muhammad Asim Khan told the publication, adding that the all of the deceased were men aged between 20 and 40.
Bomb in a bag
KP police said the initial investigation revealed it to be an improvised explosive device (IED) planted inside a bag.
Geo News correspondent Shakeel Farman Ali reported that police told him a man had walked into the seminary and left a bag inside.
Due to the number of children in the main hall, “there was not enough space so they were all standing very close together inside the hall”.
However, the cleric addressing the session in the seminary’s main hall, Maulana Rahimullah, miraculously survived.
An LRH official said the hospital received seven bodies and 70 injured after the incident.
Another 36 were shifted to Naseerullah Babar Memorial Hospital.
Attack comes days after NACTA warning
No group has yet claimed responsibility of the attack, which comes a couple of days after a remote-controlled bomb exploded at the Hazarganji fruit market in Balochistan’s capital, Quetta, killing at least three people died and injuring seven.
The blast also comes just a few days after the Islamabad-based National Counter Terrorism Authority (NACTA) had issued a threat alert for Peshawar and Quetta, saying the banned militant outfit Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) was planning terrorist activities in the two cities.
In its statement, it had said the TTP aimed to target religious and political parties in bomb attacks and suicide bombings.
Witnesses describe bombing
Reports on social media showed the lesson at the seminary was being broadcast live on Facebook when the blast ripped through the main hall some time after 8am. Footage run on TV indicated the extent of the damage caused to the school.