A suicide bomber blew himself up in a mosque packed with worshippers offering Friday prayers, killing over 40 people and injuring at least 70 others in the restive Darra Adam Khel region of northwest Pakistan on Friday.
The bomber struck while prayers were underway in the mosque at Attariwal village in Akhorwal area. Part of the mosque's ceiling collapsed and many people were buried under the debris, officials said.
"Over 40 people were killed and the death toll could rise as about 70 to 80 were injured. Many of the injured are in a critical condition," Kohat district administration chief Shahidullah Khan told the media. Officials said the bomber was a teenager who managed to enter the mosque, located near the 'hujra' (guesthouse) of pro-government tribal elder Malik Wali Khan.
Shahidullah Khan said authorities received warnings about such attacks almost on a daily basis. Kohat Commissioner Khalid Umarzai too told the media that authorities were expecting such attacks due to operations being conducted by security forces against the Taliban in Darra Adam Khel and nearby tribal areas.
No group claimed responsibility for the attack. Witnesses said they saw blood and human flesh spattered all over the mosque. Officials said the bomber's suicide vest contained 10-15 kg of explosives. Many of the bodies and injured were taken to the state-run Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar, where authorities declared an emergency.
Officials at the hospital said two children were among the deceased. Several children were also among the injured, they said. The area where the attack was carried out is the hub of a Taliban faction led by Tariq Afridi who was blamed for several high-profile kidnappings, including the abduction of Peshawar-based Afghan diplomat Abdul Khaliq Farahi, Pakistan's former envoy to Afghanistan, Tariq Azizuddin and a Polish engineer. Azizuddin was freed after the payment of ransom while the Polish engineer was beheaded by his kidnappers.