Funerals were held in Pakistan as authorities halted search efforts after at least 100 people were killed in an explosion at a mosque. Photo by Bilawal Arbab/EPA-EFE
Jan. 31 (UPI) -- The death toll from the terrorist explosion at a Pakistani mosque on Monday rose to 100 as emergency crews completed their search for bodies, officials said on Tuesday.
Peshawar Commissioner Riaz Mehsud said emergency workers scrambled through the rubble of the mosque for nearly 24 hours before ending their rescue and recovery efforts.
Meanwhile, Lady Reading Hospital officials said more than 100 remain wounded from the blast, including several in critical condition. Peshawar police chief Muhammad Ijaz Khan said more than 90% of the mosque victims were police officers, who gathered at the mosque for afternoon prayers.
The Pakistani Taliban, also known as the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan or TTP, originally claimed responsibility for the attack but later tried to distance itself from the attack at the Police Lines Mosque in Peshawar. Authorities believe that a local faction of the militants may have conducted the act.
Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Inspector General Mauzzam Jah Ansari referred to the attacker as a "suicide bomber" in a press conference Tuesday and said authorities were investigating a security lapse that allowed the alleged bomber to bring explosives into the mosque.
"There are canteens present, some construction work was also ongoing. Somehow [explosive material was brought here in small quantities over a period of time," he said.
Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif declared a national day of mourning on Tuesday while condemning those responsible.
Through their despicable actions, terrorists want to spread fear and paranoia among the masses and reverse our hard-earned gains against terrorism and militancy," Sharif wrote on Twitter. "My message to all political forces is one of unity against anti-Pakistan elements. We can fight our political fights later."
Authorities said 48 had initially died on Monday before Peshawar crews went through a more extensive search of the destroyed mosque. Pakistan's former leader Imran Khan had called for improved communications and upgraded intelligence "to combat the growing threat of terrorism."