Mosque Bombing Kills 53, Injures 117 in Northwest Tribal Area of Pakistan

A bomb explosion killed at least 53 people at prayer in a village mosque in northwestern Pakistan’s border zone with Afghanistan, a rescue service said.

The bomb erupted at the end of the main weekly prayer service at the mosque in Ghundi, a village in the ethnic Pashtun tribal region near the Khyber Pass. It left 117 people injured and rescue workers were moving victims to hospitals in the nearby provincial capital of Peshawar, said Mujahid Khan, a spokesman of the Edhi Foundation rescue service.

The blast was triggered by a suicide bomber, said Sadeeq Khan, a political officer of the Khyber district administration, who was reached by phone.

The attack was the deadliest in the district since a bomb in another mosque killed 70 during a weekly prayer service in March 2009. Guerrilla groups under local tribal leaders in the Khyber district have fought for dominance since 2005. The district straddles the main road from Peshawar to the Khyber Pass, which is used by North Atlantic Treaty Organization forces in Afghanistan as their main overland supply route.

The region has suffered dozens of attacks on mosques in recent decades, most of them related to conflicts between the Sunni majority and minority Shiite Muslims.

No group claimed responsibility for today’s attack.

The device detonated as Farooq Khalil and other worshippers were starting to walk out of the mosque, he said in a phone interview. “I went back to help my friends, but I only saw bones and flesh and blood everywhere,” Khalil said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Anwar Shakir in Peshawar at ashakir1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at phirschberg@bloomberg.net

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