PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Feb 2 (Reuters) – The suicide bomber who killed more than 100 people at a mosque in a police compound in the Pakistani city of Peshawar this week wore a police uniform and rode a motorcycle into the high-security zone , a provincial police precinct. the police chief said Thursday.
The attacker behind Monday’s attack had been identified as a member of a militant network, Moazzam Jah Ansari, police chief of Khyber Pashtunkhwa province, told reporters, without elaborating.
“I admit this was a security mistake. My men couldn’t stop him. This is my fault,” Ansari said.
The bombing was the deadliest in a decade in Peshawar, a northwestern city that has suffered decades of Islamist militant violence and is located near restive Pashtun tribal lands that border Afghanistan.
It took place as hundreds of worshipers gathered for midday prayers at a purpose-built mosque for police and their families inside the district’s high-security police lines.
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Ansari said CCTV footage showed the attacker, wearing a helmet and mask, riding his motorcycle through the main Police Lines checkpoint. Then he parked his bike, asked how to get to the mosque and walked there, Ansari added.
“The police guards at the main entrance thought he was a member of the force; they didn’t check him,” Ansari said.
A day earlier, the police chief said investigators were not ruling out that the attacker may have had “inside assistance.” Several suspects were in police custody, he said.
All but three of the dead were policemen, making it the worst attack on Pakistani security forces in recent history.
Police Lines is a colonial-era self-contained camp housing low- and mid-range police personnel and their families in the province capital. Hundreds of police officers organized demonstrations across the province to protest the attack.
The most active militant group in the area, the Pakistani Talibanalso called Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), has recently increased attacks on police in the north-western province as part of its campaign against the Islamabad government.
The TTP has denied responsibility for the attack on the mosque.
Pakistani officials say they suspect a breakaway TTP faction called Jamat-ul-Ahrar was involved.
Jamat-ul-Ahrar has claimed responsibility for several major bombings in the region over the years, including the twin suicide bombings at All Saints Church that killed dozens of worshipers in September 2013, in what it remains the deadliest attack against the country’s Christian minority.
Reporting by Jibran Ahmad in Peshawar and Asif Shahzad in Islamabad; Written by Miral Fahmy; edited by
Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.
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