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Eight people have been killed and over 125 injured after an explosion occurred in a madrassah in Peshawar's Dir Colony Tuesday morning, according to hospital authorities.
The injured include four children, Asim Khan, the spokesperson of the Lady Reading Hospital, told SAMAA TV. Five people were in critical condition and they have been shifted to the Burn and Trauma Hospital. Forty injured have been discharged.
Ninety-six injured people were shifted to the Lady Reading Hospital, and two each to the Khyber Teaching Hospital and Hayatabad Medical Complex. Twenty-five were sent home after receiving emergency care at Naseer Teaching Hospital
The police and rescue teams have cordoned off the blast site. An SSP said that this was an IED blast.
"A person, who has yet to be identified, came to the madrassah at around 8am, kept a bag there, and left. There were explosives in the bag," City SP Waqar Azeem told the media. There were at least 40 to 50 people present at the site when the explosion occurred, he remarked.
The injured include madrassah students, according to Rescue 1122. The rescue service has sent nine ambulances to the site. Many children are said to be in critical condition and have been shifted to the Lady Reading Hospital.
"There are patients at other hospitals, but the majority are being treated at the Lady Reading Hospital," said KP Health Minister Taimur Khan Jhangra on Twitter. "The hospital administration is dealing with the situation professionally. Our focus is to provide the best possible care to all the injured."
An emergency has been imposed in three hospitals, said KP Information Minister Kamran Bangash. The security had been placed on high alert after NACTA's threat alert, he remarked, adding that the authority's warning was against targetting of politicians and they didn't receive any such guidelines for schools or madrassahs.
KP CM Mahmood Khan has announced a package for the victims of the Peshawar blast. The families of the deceased will given Rs500,000 each, while those injured will received Rs200,000, said Mahmood Khan
The madrassah is located inside a mosque. There are many shops and apartments in the area.
Violence in Pakistan has declined in recent years following a series of military operations along the border with Afghanistan, but militant groups are still able to carry out deadly attacks.
Pakistan's army launched its operation in mid-2014 to wipe out militant bases in the area and end the near decade-long insurgency that has cost thousands of lives.
The operation was intensified after the Pakistani Taliban killed more than 150 people, the majority of them children, at a school in Peshawar in December 2014.
'There was fire everywhere'
An eyewitness said that the blast occurred just after the second period on Hadith had started. There weren't that many people during the first period but many more had come for the second period, he said.
"After the blast occurred, there was fire everywhere," he remarked. We tried to rescue as many people as possible.
Another eyewitness, who was studying at the madrassah, said that over 800 students were present at the site when the explosion occurred. He said that madrassah teaches students different courses on the Quran and Hadith.
'Terrorists look for soft targets'
Terrorists always look for soft targets, said KP minister Shaukat Yousafzai while speaking about the attack. "This is the second APS. This has nothing to do with religion, this attack is on humanity," he remarked. Madrassahs are a place of worship and peace and this incident is highly condemnable.
KP CM Mahmood Khan that targetting innocent children and youngsters is condemnable. This is the height of oppression. He has ordered the police to investigate the blast from all angles.
"I want to assure my nation we will ensure the terrorists responsible for this cowardly barbaric attack are brought to justice as soon as possible," said Prime Minister Imran Khan in a tweet.
Deeply saddened by terrorist attack on madrassah in Peshawar. My condolences go to the victims families & prayers for early recovery of the injured. I want to assure my nation we will ensure the terrorists responsible for this cowardly barbaric attack are brought to justice asap— Imran Khan (@ImranKhanPTI) October 27, 2020
"These people have no religion or morality," said Special Representative to PM on Religious Harmony Tahir Ashrafi. "They target children, schools, parks, and madrassahs. This is condemnable." The students were reading God's message when they were brutally targeted. Their only fault was that they were Pakistani. "We have to defeat our enemies," he added.
Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, the PPP chairperson, said that the people who target innocent people have no faith. The government should make all efforts for the quality treatment of the injured, he added.
NACTA's threat alert
“Reportedly, the terrorist plan includes the assassination of high-profile political personalities through a well-articulated bomb blast/suicide bombing in near future,” NACTA told the security agencies in its letter.
In its letter, NACTA stated that security forces recovered eight improvised explosive devices in its raid in Balochistan’s Qamar Din Karez area on October 21 and it believes that the explosive material “was most likely destined for Quetta and KP”.
The counter terrorism authority suggested law enforcement agencies to increase the security of political and religious leaders in the country.
Additional reporting by AFP.