- Peshawar police chief says major arrests have been made
Major arrests have been made in connection with the Peshawar mosque bombing that killed over 100 people on Monday, said Peshawar Police Chief Ijaz Khan on Wednesday.
A suicide bomber blew himself up inside a crowded mosque next to the Police Lines in Peshawar, in a highly fortified security compound, the latest in a string of attacks targeting police.
Ijaz Khan told Reuters that police are investigating how the suicide bomber entered the highly-secured police area, and could not rule out internal assistance to carry out the attack.
"We have found some excellent clues, and based on these clues we have made some major arrests," Peshawar Police Chief Ijaz Khan said.
"We can't rule out internal assistance but since the investigation is still in progress, I will not be able to share more details."
A police official told AFP that some among the 23 detained were also from the city and nearby former tribal areas which border Afghanistan.
Investigators, who include counter-terrorism and intelligence officials, are focusing on how the attacker managed to breach the military and police checkpoints leading into the Police Lines district, a colonial-era, self-contained encampment in the city centre that is home to middle- and lower-ranking police personnel and their families.
The most active militant group in the area, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), has denied responsibility for the attack, which no group has claimed so far.
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah had told parliament a breakaway faction of the TTP was to blame.
‘Who brought the terrorists back?’: PM Shehbaz
Talking to the media on Wednesday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif asked “who brought the terrorists back?”
In a cabinet meeting, the PM said operations Zarb-e-Azb and Radd-ul-Fasaad had “swept away terrorism from Pakistan” and blamed the recent rise in terrorism incidents on “the former government in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa”, which was led by Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), although he did not name any party.
He questioned the “misuse” of funds by the KP government and criticised it for failing to “create defences against terrorism.”
“The federal government cleared the NFC (National Finance Comission) award for KP on priority every year but still the province is not able to deal with terrorism. Where did the funds go?” he questioned.
He was of the view that if the government failed to take corrective measures, the spike in terror incidents would spread all over Pakistan.
“We will deal with terrorism. This is the top priority for now,” he said. “We cannot forget the sacrifices and support given by Pakistanis.”
Afghan Taliban say Afghanistan should not be blamed
Meanwhile, the Taliban government in Kabul warned Pakistan's ministers "to not pass the blame to others".
"They should see the problems in their own house... Afghanistan should not be blamed," foreign minister Amir Khan Muttaqi said in a press conference.