PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN (AFP) – At least seven students were killed and scores more wounded yesterday in a bomb attack on a religious school in northwestern Pakistan, officials said.
More than 60 people had been taking a lesson when the explosion tore through the madrassa in Peshawar, about 170 kilometres west of Islamabad, said Senior Police Officer Waqar Azim.
“The blast took place in a seminary during an Al-Quran class. Someone took a bag inside the seminary,” Azim told AFP.
He added that the person who had brought in the bag left the lecture hall before the blast at the Jamia Zuberia seminary.
Mohammad Ali Gandapur, another senior police official, said at least seven people had been killed with more than 50 wounded.
The death toll was confirmed by Mohammad Asim Khan, a spokesman at a local hospital, who told AFP that seven bodies and 70 wounded people had been taken to the facility.
“Most of those killed and injured were hit by the ball bearings and some were badly burnt,” he said.
All of the dead were men aged between 20 and 40, he said. Teachers and boys as young as seven were among the wounded.
Teacher Safiullah Khan told AFP more than 1,000 students are currently enrolled at the religious school, which is roughly divided into two sections, with one for students aged 18 and older and the other for children.
“The blast took place in the section where students above the age of 18 were taking a class,” Khan said, adding that the wall between the two sections collapsed in the blast.
Shortly afterwards, rescue workers and locals were seen scouring the site and collecting students’ books, caps and shoes. The loud blast, which could be heard across most parts of Peshawar, wrecked the school’s interior and damaged the roof of the main hall.
No group claimed immediate responsibility for the attack, which followed months of relative calm in Pakistan. Peshawar was once the epicentre of militant violence in the country, with extremists targetting security forces and public spaces in the city near the northwestern frontier with Afghanistan.