The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as the Pakistani Taliban, denied any involvement in the Jan. 30 suicide bombing at a mosque in Peshawar, Pakistan, which killed at least 95 people.
This came after TTP commander Sarbakaf Mohmand claimed responsibility for the mosque bombing in a Twitter post on Monday. Mohmand said that it was a revenge attack for the death of the group’s top commander, Omar Khalid Khorasani, in Afghanistan last year.
The militant group later denied being involved in the bombing, claiming it was against its policy to target mosques or other religious sites. TTP said that those who engaged in such acts could face punitive action under its policy.
The TTP’s denial also came after the Afghan Foreign Ministry condemned attacks on worshipers as contrary to the teachings of Islam.
Pakistan’s authorities said that a suicide bomber detonated himself in the mosque during noon prayers on Jan. 30, ripping through the mosque and causing the roof to collapse on top of worshipers.
At least 221 people were wounded. Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said on social media that “the sheer scale of the human tragedy is unimaginable” and described terrorism as “the foremost national security challenge” for Pakistan.
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressed his condolences to the families of the victims.
“Worshipers at a mosque in Peshawar endured a horrific attack today, which killed and injured many. Terrorism for any reason at any place is indefensible,” Blinken stated on Twitter.
Pakistan’s inspector-general Moazzam Jah Ansari said Tuesday that the attacker used 10 to 12 kilograms of explosives for the bombing. Ansari blamed a security lapse and said that an investigation had been launched.
“We are checking one-month’s CCTV footage and tracking the facilitators of the bomber,” he was quoted as saying by local media Geo News.
Police believe the attacker may have posed as a guest to gain entry. The building is located inside a highly fortified compound that includes the headquarters of the provincial police force and a counter-terrorism department.
The attack was the city’s worst since March of last year, when a suicide bombing at a Shi’ite Muslim mosque during Friday prayers killed at least 58 people and injured nearly 200. ISIS terrorist group extremists claimed responsibility for that bombing.
Peshawar—which sits at the edge of Pakistan’s tribal districts bordering Afghanistan—is frequently targeted by terrorist groups, including the Pakistani Taliban.
The Pakistani Taliban is an umbrella of Sunni and sectarian Islamist groups that want to overthrow the government and replace it with their own brand of Islamic governance.
Angered by Pakistan’s cooperation with Washington in the fight against terrorism, the TTP was officially set up by Pakistani militants in 2007 when different outlawed groups agreed to work together against Pakistan and support the Afghan Taliban, which was fighting U.S. and NATO forces.
The TTP seeks stricter enforcement of Islamic laws, the release of its members in government custody, and a reduction in Pakistani military presence in parts of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, the province bordering Afghanistan that it has long used as a base.
The TTP has stepped up attacks on Pakistani soldiers and police since November, when it unilaterally ended a cease-fire with the government after the failure of months of talks hosted by Afghanistan’s Taliban rulers in Kabul. The TTP has repeatedly warned police not to take part in operations against its fighters in Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.