Steve October 27, 2020
peshawar-blast:-at-least-seven-dead-in-pakistan-school-attack

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At least seven people have died and more than 50 injured after an explosion during a class at a religious school in Pakistan, police have said.

Hospital officials say those killed in the attack, which took place in the northern city of Peshawar, were aged between 20 and 30.

Dozens of others were injured, including four under the age of 13.

No group has yet claimed responsibility. An investigation has been launched.

Earlier reports suggested four of the dead were children, but this has since been retracted.

The city of Peshawar, close to the Afghan border, has seen some of the worst of the violence during the Taliban insurgency in recent years.

Six years ago, gunmen stormed a military school in the city leaving more than 150 dead, including many children.

However, the number of attacks has greatly reduced in recent years.

What happened?

The blast took place at about 08:30 local time (03:30 GMT), police told the BBC.

About 60 people are understood to have been in the class at the religious school, known as a madrassa.

An eyewitness has told the police he saw a man enter the building with a bag of explosives shortly before the blast.

Images from inside the room show extensive damage.

Hospital officials told Reuters news agency that they had received dozens of injured, many with burns.

The AFP news agency has quoted police as saying that that two teachers were among the injured.

Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan has expressed “regret over the loss of precious lives”, strongly condemning the blast.

Analysis: Ilyas Khan, BBC News, Islamabad

This attack, which follows a bombing in a neighbourhood in Quetta city on Sunday, is reminiscent of the era of widespread militant violence that hit the Pakistani mainland in the mid-2000s.

It is the first “soft” target hit by suspected militants in Peshawar city since the 2014 attack on the Army Public School (APS).

That attack prompted the Pakistani army to launch an operation to clear militant sanctuaries along the Pak-Afghan border. In November 2016, the army claimed the areas had been cleared of militants.

The latest incidents come amid reports suggesting the Taliban militants have been regrouping in the areas which had been cleared over the past year or so.

Various attacks have been reported, mainly targeting members of PTM, a Pashtun nationalist movement that has accused the military of protecting militants.

Some analysts fear that the current militant regrouping may be part of a plan not only to counter the PTM and the opposition Pakistan Democratic Movement (PDM), but also to influence the ongoing political process in Afghanistan at a time when the American forces are set to pull out from the region.

Islamist militants have long been seen by analysts as proxies of the security establishment, working to further its strategic aims in the region.

from the BBC

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