A powerful explosion ripped through a mosque frequented by police officers in a highly secured part of the northwestern city of Peshawar on Monday, killing at least 27 and wounding at least 120, officials said, the worst attack in the country in months.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but the explosion broke a relative period of calm in Peshawar, the provincial capital of the restive province of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa.
The explosion tore through rows of worshipers at the mosque in Police Lines, a high-security neighborhood of the city that is home to several important government and military buildings.
The roof of the mosque caved in after the explosion, leaving several people stranded under the debris. The wounded were rushed to a nearby hospital.
The region has been the site of several attacks on police and military targets in recent months, especially in regions that straddle the border with Afghanistan, with the Pakistani Taliban claiming responsibility.
A bombing attack at a Shiite mosque in Peshawar in March 2022 killed more than 50 people and wounded more than 100. The Islamic State’s regional affiliate, Islamic State Khorasan, or ISIS-K, claimed responsibility.
“A large part of the KP province is in a state of war,” Khawaja Muhammad Asif, the country’s defense minister, told GEO TV, a local television news network.
Mr. Asif said the security situation in the province had deteriorated significantly after the Taliban takeover of neighboring Afghanistan in 2021.
A peace deal between the Pakistani Taliban and the government broke down last year, and the resurgence of the Pakistani Taliban has strained relations between the countries.
Security was put on high alert in Islamabad, the capital, with snipers installed on important government buildings and checkpoints tightened on roads entering the city.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif strongly condemned the blast. “Terrorists want to create fear by targeting those who perform the duty of defending Pakistan,” Mr. Sharif said in a statement.