PESHAWAR, Pakistan ( Associated Press) — The death toll from a suicide attack on a mosque in Pakistan rose to 83 on Tuesday, a Pakistani hospital spokesman said.
Spokesman Mohammad Asim said more bodies were pulled from the rubble of the mosque on Monday night and Tuesday morning, and several seriously injured people died in hospital.
“Most of them were police officers,” Aseem said of the victims.
Bilal Faizi, director of the rescue office, said workers were still clearing debris from the roof of the mosque, which collapsed after the attack. It was believed that more people are still trapped. The temple was inside a police compound in a high-security area of the city.
He said more than 150 people were also wounded in the attack in the northwestern city of Peshawar. It was not clear how the attacker managed to enter the complex, located in a high-security area surrounded by other government buildings.
Mourners in Peshawar and elsewhere on Tuesday began burying the victims of the attack at various cemeteries.
Authorities have not determined who was behind the attack.
Shortly after Monday’s blast, Pakistani Taliban commander Sarabkaf Mohmand claimed responsibility for the attack on Twitter.
But hours later, a spokesman for the group, also known as the Tariq-i-Taliban-Pakistan or TTP, Mohammad Khurasani, distanced himself from the group, saying they do not attack religious places and that people who Participating in such acts were punished under TTP rules. His statement did not mention why a TTP commander claimed responsibility for the first attack.
The terrorist group is a separate but affiliated branch of the Afghan Taliban. TTP has been insurgent in Pakistan for 15 years. It seeks to establish a strict rule of Islamic law in the country, release its detained members and reduce the presence of the Pakistani military in areas of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, on which it bases its base.
“The sheer scale of the human tragedy is unimaginable. This is nothing but an attack on Pakistan,” tweeted Prime Minister Shabaz Sharif, visiting the compound in Peshawar and promising “stern action” against those responsible. He expressed his condolences to the families of the victims, saying that their pain “cannot be described in words.”
Sunni Muslim-majority Pakistan has seen an increase in terrorist attacks since November, when the Pakistani Taliban ended its ceasefire with government forces.