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 rode a motorcycle into a high-security zone wearing a police uniform. the police chief said Thursday.
The bomber behind Monday’s attack has been identified as a member of a militant network, Khyber Pashtun province police chief Moazzam Jah Ansari told reporters without elaborating.
“I admit it was a security breach. My men couldn’t stop it. It’s my fault,” Ansari said.
The blast was the deadliest in a decade to hit the northwestern city of Peshawar, which has suffered decades of Islamist militant violence and lies near restive Pashtun tribal lands bordering Afghanistan.
It happened when hundreds of worshipers were gathering for midday prayers at a mosque built for policemen and their families in the heavily guarded Police Lines district.
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Ansari said CCTV footage showed the bomber wearing a helmet and mask riding a motorcycle through the main checkpoint of Police Lines. He then parked his bike, asked for directions to the mosque and went there, Ansari added.
“The police guards at the main entrance thought he was a member of the force; they did not check him,” Ansari said.
A day earlier, the police chief said that investigators do not rule out the possibility that the attacker may have had “inside help”. Several suspects are in police custody, he said.
All but three of those killed were police officers, the worst attack on Pakistan’s security forces.
Police Lines is a colonial-era camp that houses middle and lower-ranking police personnel and their families across the state. capital. Hundreds of police demonstrated across the province to protest the attack.
The most active armed group in the region Pakistani Talibanalso, the so-called Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has recently increased attacks on police in the northwestern province as part of its campaign against the government in Islamabad.
TTP denied responsibility for the attack on the mosque.
Pakistani officials say they suspect the involvement of a separatist faction of the TTP called Jamaat-ul-Ahrar.
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar has claimed responsibility for several major attacks in the region over the years, including two suicide bombings at All Saints Church in September 2013 that killed scores of worshipers and remain the deadliest attacks on the country’s Christian minority.
Reporting by Jibran Ahmed in Peshawar and Asif Shahzad in Islamabad; Written by Miral Fahmi; edited by
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