Pakistani religious school explosion kills at least 8

LAHORE, Pakistan – At least eight people were killed and more than 100 injured when a powerful explosion ripped through an Islamic religious school in northwest Pakistan on Tuesday, officials said.

Classes were underway Tuesday morning at the school, Madrasa Jamia Zuberia, located in a crowded suburban neighborhood outside of Peshawar, when the explosion rocked the compound. Officials said an improvised explosive device, or IED, was most likely used in the blast.

No group has claimed immediate responsibility.

The majority of the injured were taken to nearby Lady Reading hospital. A state of emergency has been declared for the other hospitals in the city, which have prepared for the crushing of the injured.

Television footage showed a scene of devastation at the site of the blast. The religious school was cordoned off as authorities searched for forensic evidence. Police officials said they were investigating from all angles and some students told authorities an unidentified man brought a bag inside the compound early Tuesday morning and left shortly after. . Officials suspected the bag contained an IED

The madrasa is located in an area where a large number of Afghans also live. Most of her students are in their early to mid-twenties.

The explosion broke a long period of relative calm in Peshawar, which for years has seen regular terrorist attacks by the Pakistani Taliban. Militant attacks have ebbed since a successful military operation in 2014 in tribal areas of the province.

Later Tuesday, the Pakistani Taliban issued a statement denying their involvement in the attack and called the targeting of students “wrongdoing.”

An intelligence official, who requested anonymity because he is not authorized to speak to the media, said the attack appeared to be an attempt to sabotage peace, especially the Afghan peace process.

The threat level was raised to “high alert” in Islamabad, the Pakistani capital, after the explosion, officials said. The country’s Prime Minister, Imran Khan, said he was “deeply saddened by the terrorist attack”.

“My condolences go out to the families of the victims and my prayers for the speedy recovery of the injured,” Mr Khan wrote on Twitter. “I want to assure my nation that we will ensure that the terrorists responsible for this cowardly barbaric attack are brought to justice as soon as possible. “

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