The toll from the suicide bombing in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar rose to 83 on Tuesday, a hospital spokesperson told AFP.

A suicide bomber on Monday blew himself up inside a mosque in a highly fortified compound where offices of the police and counter-terrorism bureaus are located. More than 150 persons were injured in the attack.

At least 20 police officers were among those killed. At the time of the incident, between 300 and 400 police officers were in the area, Peshawar police chief Muhammad Ijaz Khan said.

“This [Tuesday] morning we are going to remove the last part of the collapsed roof so we can recover more bodies, but we are not hopeful of reaching any survivors,” Bilal Ahmad Faizi, a spokesperson for a rescue organisation called 1122, told AFP.

Initially, a commander of Pakistani Taliban (Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan or TTP) had claimed responsibility for the bombing. But hours later, a spokesperson of the Pakistani Taliban distanced the group from the attack, saying it was not its policy to target mosques or religious places.

Peshawar, the capital of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan, has been frequently targeted by terrorist groups, including the Pakistani Taliban.

In March, a suicide bombing at a Shi’ite mosque had killed 62 persons and injured nearly 200. The Islamic State had claimed responsibility for the attack. This was the biggest terrorist attack in Peshawar since October 2020, when eight students and 120 others were killed after an explosive went off at a mosque.