This September 17, 2016 photo shows Pakistani mourners gathering for the funeral prayers of victims of a bomb attack that took place a day earlier at a mosque in the Mohmand tribal district near the Pakistan-Afghanistan border. (AFP photo)
Pakistani officials have updated the death toll from an attack by the Taliban militants on a mosque in the northwest of the country, saying 36 are now confirmed killed as the result of the incident.
Naveed Akbar, the deputy chief of Mohmand tribal district administration, said Sunday that eight children were among those dead in the attack on Friday which targeted the mosque in an area bordering Afghanistan.
“We have now compiled a list of victims of the blast, which includes 36 dead and 27 injured. At least, eight children below the age of 10 years are among the dead,” Akbar said, adding, “Many children were hit in the blast because they were praying in the last rows in the mosque” where the attack took place.
A curfew has been in the place since the Friday attack on the mosque in Mohmand.
A faction of Taliban, called Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA), said it carried out the attack to target the local vigilante forces. It said those forces had killed 13 of JuA members and arrested several others in 2009.
The assault was one of deadliest hitting Pakistan’s volatile northwestern regions in recent times. Vigilante groups, mostly comprised of tribesmen and known as the peace committees, have been assisting the government in the fight against pro-Taliban militants since JuA was formed in 2007.
The military intensified the anti-Taliban drive in June 2014 days after an attack by Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) on an airport in the southern port city of Karachi. However, the deadliest of all attacks came in December that year, when 150 people, mostly children, were killed in an assault on a school in the city of Peshawar.
Islamabad says its military operations have mostly succeeded in wiping out militant bases in tribal areas although sporadic attacks have continued.
Thousands of people have been killed over the past years as a result of the surge in militancy in Pakistan.