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8 killed and 136 injured in Pakistan madrassa bombing

On 27 October 2020 (Monday), an explosion at a religious seminary in Pakistan’s northern city of Peshawar killed at least 8 people and injured 136 others.

The blast struck Jamia Zubairia madrassa’s main prayer hall as an early morning class was under way in the Dir Colony Area of Peshawar, situated near the border with Afghanistan. Hospital officials said all those killed were adults, and several children were among the wounded.

Police chief Muhammad Ali Khan reported that the bomb appeared to go off minutes after an unknown individual had left a bag at the madrassa. He said that the bomb contained five to six kilogrammes of explosives. Officials described the attack as ‘sophisticated’, involving a timed detonation and TNT.

UNICEF’s Pakistan Representative, Aida Girma, strongly condemned the attack, and saying “Schools must never be targeted. They must remain safe learning environments at all times to protect the growth and healthy development of children, adolescents and young people.”

The attack comes days after an explosion just over the border in Kabul which killed 24 people at an education centre. (see AOAV’s response piece)

No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack and an investigation has been launched.

Peshawar, close to the Afghan border, has suffered some of the worst violence linked to the Taliban insurgency in both countries. Pakistan has battled the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), or Pakistan Taliban, since 2007 when the group had influence over several districts, carrying out frequent attacks against civilian and security targets. Violence has been on the decline since 2014 when the Pakistani military launched a series of operations to displace the TTP from the country’s northwest. However, sporadic attacks aimed at civilians and security forces continue to be a reality for those living on Pakistan’s north-western boarder.

Action on Armed Violence (AOAV) records casualties (i.e. people killed and injured) from explosive violence around the world as reported in English-language news sources.

Pakistan has consistently been one of the state’s worst impacted by explosive violence since AOAV’s monitors began, predominantly due to the harm from improvised explosive devices (IEDs). AOAV data shows that there were 1,145 deaths and injuries from explosive violence in 2019 in Pakistan. 63% of these casualties were civilians and 70% of all civilian casualties were from the use of IEDs.

AOAV strongly condemns the attack in Peshawar and urgently calls for states to collaborate to address the threat of IED attacks. The use of explosive weaponry in populated areas has far reaching implications and preventative measures must be implemented to reduce the serious impact on civilians.