On March 4, an Afghan suicide bomber blew up a Shiite mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan, a city close to the Afghan border. The attack killed at least 63 people and wounded more than 200. This was Pakistan’s worst terrorist attack in the last two years.
CCTV footage shows the attacker hiding the bomb under a black shawl. He then shoots two police officers in front of the entrance to the mosque, killing one of them. Shortly after, the bomb explodes. Further footage reveals the attacker arriving on a motorized rickshaw, with two others.
According to ABC News, the bomb contained ball bearings, frequently used in the construction of devices to allow motion and uphold load. When employed in a bomb, they act as forceful projectiles over a large distance. This is likely to have amplified the deadly consequences of the attack.
While Pakistani police attempts to track down the people involved, ISIS-K has claimed responsibility for the bombing. The “Islamic State Khorasan Province” comprises the Afghan branch of the Sunni terrorist organization.
The Afghan Deputy Minister for Culture and Information, Zabihullah Mujahid, denounced the attack, tweeting: “We condemn the bombing of a mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan. There is no justification for attacking civilians and worshippers.” Since the Taliban’s rise to power last year, ISIS-K has become a threat to the Taliban’s security. According to the Wilson Center, ISIS-K and the Taliban commit to different interpretations of Sunni Islam, believing in the need to violently defeat one another.
The attack also led to public outcry by minority Shiites in Pakistan, who blame the government for their lack of security. On the evening of March 4, Shiite groups protested the bombing across the country, demanding that the government pay more attention to their safety. Before Pakistan’s military campaign against insurgents in 2014, the local Shia community frequently fell victim to attacks by Islamist terrorist organizations.