(FiveNation.com)- A Shiite mosque in the city of Peshawar in northwestern Pakistan was hit by a suicide bomber during Friday prayers last week killing at least 56 people and wounding another 194. ISIS-K, the Afghan affiliate of the Islamic State has claimed credit for the attack.
A statement posted to the terrorist group’s Amaq News Agency posted a picture of the Afghan suicide bomber and boasted that Islamic State fighters are constantly attacking Shiites in Pakistan and Afghanistan despite the added security around Shia mosques and centers.
A spokesman at Peshawar’s Lady Reading Hospital said many of the wounded were in critical condition having been struck with shrapnel from the bomb. Several victims had limbs amputated while others had been injured by flying debris.
Peshawar Chief of Police Muhammed Ejaz Khan said the attacker initially opened fire at police outside of the mosque, killing one police officer and wounding another. The man then ran into the mosque and detonated his suicide vest.
According to police, the vest was packed with twelve pounds of explosives and hidden beneath a shawl that covered most of the attacker’s body. The device also contained ball bearings to inflict maximum carnage. Police said the ball bearings were what caused the high death toll.
CCTV captured the shoot-out with police and the moment of the explosion before the camera was quickly obscured by dust and flying debris.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan’s national security adviser Moeed Yusuf described the bombing as a “heinous terrorist attack” and vowed that those behind it would “be brought to justice.”
A spokesman for Iran’s Foreign Ministry, Saeed Khatizadeh condemned the attack and expressed his hope that the Pakistani government would put an end to attacks against the Shiite minority with “firm actions.”
In Pakistan, where Sunni Muslims make up the majority of the population, Shiites have come under repeated attacks. In recent months, the country has experienced a marked increase in violence, including along the border with Afghanistan where dozens of military personnel at border outposts have been killed.
Many of these attacks have been claimed by the Pakistani Taliban who has been emboldened by the Afghan Taliban seizing power last summer.