Two US citizens have been killed and two others injured in a terror attack on a mosque in Pakistan’s far north, police and security officials said.
Police spokesman Zafar Ahmed said the victims were US citizens, one a female and the other a male, in a “terrorist incident” in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, about 80 kilometres (50 miles) northwest of the capital Islamabad.
The victims, both from the US state of Michigan, were rushed to hospital and were in serious condition, Ahmed said.
The second victim, a female, was taken to hospital but was not seriously hurt, he said.
Authorities are investigating the attack as a “suspected terror attack” and said they were seeking a US citizen and an Afghan national who were seen with the two victims in the early hours of the morning.
The attacks came a day after two suicide bombers killed five people and wounded 30 in a separate attack on an Islamic school in Peshawar, the city where Pakistan hosts its annual annual international cricket tournament.
The US, India and Afghanistan have been battling a Taliban insurgency since the US invasion of 2001.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said on Friday that the attack “is a clear violation of our sovereignty and a clear attack on Pakistan”.
The US and Afghanistan had been negotiating a peace deal that would see a halt to the conflict, but the talks have stalled, with US President Donald Trump pushing for a return to the war.
He is currently attending a Nato summit in Germany, where the two sides are scheduled to hold talks.
President Donald Trump shakes hands with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in the Oval Office at the White House in Washington, US, February 6, 2021.
(AP, File) Paktistan’s interior minister, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto, said the attack was a “clear violation of the sovereignty of Pakistan”.
“Terrorists and terrorists are not the only ones that should be protected,” he told a news conference in Peshabad.
“We will never give up the struggle against terrorism, we will never allow terrorism to be defeated.”
The US is not party to the peace deal, and has been accused of supporting the Taliban insurgency.
“The attacks are a clear provocation and a threat to the security of Pakistan,” a senior US official told the BBC in Washington.
US officials say the two men who carried out the attack in the provincial capital of Pulwama were part of a “large-scale, coordinated” attack against a mosque and a Christian community centre.
Pakistan has seen a spate of violence in recent months, as the Taliban and other militant groups have stepped up attacks in the country’s predominantly Muslim south and northwest.
Two Pakistani Taliban members are believed to have been involved in the attack, while two suspected militants were killed by police in the same province in November.