Powerful blast rips through Pak school, eight dead, 136 wounded with death toll on riseTue 27 Oct 2020
A powerful bomb blast ripped through an Islamic seminary on the outskirts of the northwest Pakistani city of Peshawar on Tuesday morning, killing at least eight students and wounding 136 others, police and a hospital spokesman said.
The bombing happened as a prominent religious scholar during a special class was delivering a lecture about the teachings of Islam at the main hall of the Jamia Zubairia madrassa, said police officer Waqar Azim. He said initial investigations suggest the bomb went off minutes after someone left a bag at the madrassa.
TV footage showed the damaged main hall of the seminary, where the bombing took place. The hall was littered with broken glass and its carpet was stained with blood. Police said at least 5 kilograms (11 pounds) of explosives were used in the attack.
Several of the wounded students were in critical condition, and hospital authorities feared the death toll could climb further. Authorities said some seminary teachers and employees were also wounded in the bombing.
Initially police said the bombing killed and wounded children studying at the seminary but later revised their account to say that the students were in their mid-20s.
Shortly after the attack, residents rushed to the seminary to check up on their relatives, gathering at the city’s main Lady Reading Hospital, where the dead and wounded students were brought by police in ambulances and other vehicles.
Some Afghan students studying at the seminary were also among the wounded, officials said.
Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan condemned the bombing and asked authorities to ensure the provision of best possible medical aid to the victims.
“I want to assure my nation we will ensure the terrorists responsible for this cowardly barbaric attack are brought to justice,” Khan said.
The bombing drew condemnation from the country’s opposition party, which has been holding rallies meant to force Khan’s government to quit.
The United Nations’ children’s agency, UNICEF, also condemned the attack. In a statement, its representative in Pakistan, Aida Girma, said “education is the fundamental right of every girl and boy, everywhere. Schools must never be targeted.”
Mohammad Asim, a spokesman at the Lady Reading Hospital, said eight students died and they received dozens of wounded people, mostly seminary students.
The attack comes days after Pakistani intelligence alerted that militants could target public places and important buildings, including seminaries and mosques across Pakistan, including Peshawar.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack in Peshawar which is the provincial capital of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan. The province has been the scene of such militant attacks in recent years, but sectarian violence has also killed or wounded people at mosques or seminaries across Pakistan.