An attack on a Shia mosque in Peshawar has killed at least 19 people and injured more than 50 others, hospital sources said.
At least four suicide bombers, wearing the uniforms of security forces, hit the Imamia mosque during Friday prayers, according to officials.
The Pakistan Taliban has claimed responsibility for the attack, in which three of the assailants succeeded in exploding their vests. One would-be suicide bomber was unable to do detonate his device, and Peshawar’s bomb disposal unit was able to defuse the unexploded vest. Senior police official Rana Umer Hayat said several gunmen threw grenades before storming the mosque.
Police and members of the military surrounded the area after the attack and began combing nearby areas for any attackers who may have escaped. Helicopters were visible overhead as security forces combed the streets around the mosque.
The assailants appeared to gain access to the mosque, which is under tight security, from an under-construction building next door. "They cut razor wire on the boundary wall to gain access," provincial police chief Nasir Durrani said.
Asked whether there was any specific threat against this mosque prior to the attack, he said, "The operation in Zarb-e-Azb and in Khyber agency [against the Taliban] is ongoing. We are in a war state."
This is the third attack against a Shia mosque since an attack on a Peshawar school killed more than 141 people on Dec. 16.
The last such assault took place two weeks ago, also during Friday prayers, at a Shia mosque in the town of Shikarpur, killing at least 60 people.
Al Jazeera and wire services