An explosion at a religious seminary in Pakistan’s northern city of Peshawar has killed at least seven people and injured 110 others, officials have said.
The deadly blast took place at about 8.30am at Jamia Zuberia Madressah, in Peshawar’s Dir Colony, where about 500 students were gathered to attend a Qu’ran class. Most of the students were between 20 and 30 years old, most from the Khyber Pakthunkwa and Balochistan regions of Pakistan, as well as some from Afghanistan.
Police superintendent Waqar Azeem Kharal said the explosion had been caused by high-quality explosives brought into the madrassa lecture hall in a bag.
At least four children are said to be among the dead and at least two teachers have been wounded, said a police official.
Mohammed Kashif Nadeem, a 26-year old-student, was in the madrassa lecture hall when the blast happened. He said the explosion had killed his teacher and many of the students sitting in the front row of the hall. Nadeem said he had been saved as he had arrived late and was sitting at the back of the room.
“We were having our Qu’ran classes when there was a huge blast by the minbar [pulpit] where our teacher was giving the lecture,” said Nadeem. “There was a boom so loud it broke our eardrums and students sitting on the front rows started screaming as they were burnt in the blast. It seemed like someone had placed explosives right next to where out teacher stood to teach.”
Nadeem said after the blast there was confusion in the lecture hall as the students began running. “As soon as the horrible blast killed our teacher and friends, I found myself running to the gate. We all were screaming and did not know what was happening but everyone was trying to escape from the only gate of the seminary,” he said.
No group claimed immediate responsibility for the attack.
The dead and injured, many suffering from severe burns from the blast, were taken to nearby Lady Reading hospital, which was placed under red alert.
A spokesperson for the hospital, Mohammad Asim, said: “We have received seven dead bodies. 83 are injured and out of that five have been shifted to Hayatabad burn centre as they were severely burnt. In the beginning we had to deal with the aggression of people who lost their family members in the blast but now we are in a better situation.”
Dr Siraj Muhammad, medical superintendent at Naseerullah Khan Babar Memorial hospital in Peshawar, said they were treating a further 27 people injured in the attack.
Peshawar is the provincial capital of Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan. The province has been the scene of such militant attacks in recent years, but sectarian violence has also killed or wounded people at mosques or seminaries across Pakistan.
Some of the attacks have been claimed by the Pakistani Taliban.
The latest attack comes two days after a bombing in the south-western city of Quetta killed three people.