Peshawar suicide bomber was in police uniform, say police

Peshawar suicide bomber was in police uniform, say police

Death toll from Monday's bombing of mosque in northwest Pakistan rises to 102

By Aamir Latif

KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) – With the death toll from Monday's bombing of a mosque in northwest Pakistan rising to 102, police on Thursday claimed they are "closing in" on the terrorist network involved, revealing that the suspected bomber was in police uniform.

Meanwhile, health officials confirmed that another injured succumbed to his wounds in the hospital.

On Monday, a suspected suicide bomber blew himself up during midday prayers at the mosque within the Police Headquarters in Peshawar, the capital of northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which borders neighboring Afghanistan.

Some 221 people, mostly policemen, were also injured in the bombing, which ranked as one of the deadliest terrorist attacks in recent years.

Moazzam Jah Ansari, the police chief of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, told a press conference on Thursday that the investigation agencies are "closing in" on the terrorist network involved in the bombing.

He revealed that the suspected bomber was in police uniform, and managed to break into the security of the police lines, which house several police offices, and the mosque.

Ansari also contended that the severed head of a policeman was that of the suspected bomber.

He released some pictures grabbed from the CCTV footage, showing a uniformed cop – the suspected bomber – entering the police lines while dragging a motorbike. The suspected bomber was also wearing a mask and a helmet in an attempt to hide his identity, he added.

The suspected bomber asked a policeman about the mosque, suggesting that he was not aware of the area, Ansari maintained.

"We have traced his motorcycle as well," he further said, adding that the investigation process will require some "time and patience.”

- Responsibility claims

Ansari said that an initial investigation and the "technical evidence" suggested that Jamat-ul-Ahrar, a splinter faction of the TTP, could be involved in the bombing.

Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a conglomerate of several militant groups, initially claimed but later denied involvement in the attack on its propaganda website.

"The TTP claimed responsibility for the blast for which the reasons are clear. But then it disowned it. It seems that they consulted among the group and realized that they will be criticized for attacking a mosque,” he maintained.

“Through all the evidence, we can clearly say that Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, TTP, and a hostile intelligence agency working against Pakistan's national security, are behind it (bombing),” he said without naming the agency or the country.

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