PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Feb. 2 (Reuters) – The suicide bomber who killed more than 100 people this week at a mosque on a police compound in the Pakistani city of Peshawar wore a police uniform and entered the high-security area on a motorcycle, a provincial official said. police chief said Thursday.
Moazzam Jah Ansari, police chief of Khyber Pashtunkhwa province, told reporters without giving further details that the bomber behind Monday’s attack had been identified as a member of a militant network.
“I admit this was a security breach. My men couldn’t stop it. This is my fault,” Ansari said.
The bombing, the deadliest in a decade, hit Peshawar, a northwestern city that has suffered decades of Islamist militant violence and is located near the Pashtun tribe’s unsettled lands bordering Afghanistan.
It took place as hundreds of worshipers gathered for midday prayers at a mosque built specifically for police and their families in the high-security Police Lines precinct.
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Ansari said the CCTV footage showed the bomber, wearing a helmet and mask, riding his motorcycle through the main police line checkpoint. He then parked his bicycle, asked for directions to the mosque and walked there, Ansari added.
“The police guards at the main entrance thought he was a member of the police force; they didn’t check him,” Ansari said.
A day earlier, the police chief said investigators were not ruling out that the attacker could have had “internal help”. Several suspects were in police custody, he said.
All but three of the dead were police officers, making it the worst attack on Pakistani security forces in recent history.
Police Lines is a stand-alone colonial era encampment housing middle and lower rank police personnel and their families in the provincial capital. Hundreds of police officers organized demonstrations across the province to protest the attack.
The most active militant group in the area, the Pakistani Taliban, also known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), has recently stepped up attacks on police in the North West Province as part of its campaign against the government in Islamabad.
The TTP has denied responsibility for the attack on the mosque.
Pakistani officials say they suspect a breakaway faction of the TTP called Jamat-ul-Ahrar was involved.
Jamat-ul-Ahrar has claimed responsibility for several major attacks 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 remains the deadliest attack on the country’s Christian minority.
Reporting by Jibran Ahmad in Peshawar and Asif Shahzad in Islamabad; Written by Miral Fahmy; edit by
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