A relief official said the blast occurred at a Jamia mosque in the Qissa Khwani bazaar area of Peshawar as worshipers were offering Friday prayers.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for the explosion in Peshawar, the provincial capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa which borders Afghanistan. However, Islamic State and sectarian militant groups have claimed responsibility for deadly attacks targeting Shiites in the past.
Mohammad Asim, spokesman for Lady Reading Hospital (LRH), confirmed that at least 57 people were killed and 194 injured in the blast.
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa government spokesman, lawyer Mohammad Ali Saif, said the blast was a suicide bombing. He added that two terrorists were involved in the attack.
Speaking to the media, Haroon Rasheed Khan, Peshawar SSP Operations, said the blast was a suicide bombing.
There were two assailants, but only one was a suicide bomber, he said.
An eyewitness identified someone also dressed in black as the suicide bomber, saying he entered the mosque, first shot and killed the security guard, then fired five to six bullets.
“After that, he quickly entered the [mosque’s] main hall and blows himself up in front of the pulpit. Following this, there were bodies and injuries everywhere,” the witness told Geo News.
An emergency was declared at the hospital and off-duty doctors were summoned.
Officials said the condition of some of the injured was considered critical.
The capital’s police officer, Peshawar Ijaz Ahsan, said two assailants tried to enter the mosque and fired at the officers standing guard. One policeman was killed while the other was seriously injured, he said.
The explosion happened after the shooting incident, he added.
President Arif Alvi condemned the explosion and expressed his sorrow for the precious lives lost.
Prime Minister Imran Khan has strongly condemned the explosion in Peshawar while Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed has requested a report on the incident from the Chief Secretary and the IG of the province.
Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan condemned the blast and pledged to bring the perpetrators of this heinous act to justice.
He said targeting people in a place of worship is an inhumane and cruel act and ordered authorities to ensure the best medical care for the injured.
He called an emergency meeting at the chief minister’s house to review the overall security situation in the province, which borders Afghanistan.
“Heartbreaking terrorist incident in Peshawar in which so many precious lives were lost. Words cannot adequately condemn the sheer brutality. Terrorism continues to be our greatest national challenge. Prayers and condolences go out to the bereaved families!” PML-N Chairman and Leader of the Opposition in the National Assembly, Shehbaz Sharif, tweeted.