At least 13 people have been killed and 54 others injured after suicide bomb and gun attacks in northwestern Pakistan, Sky News reports.A suicide bomber shot his way through the main gate leading to the district court in the city of Mardan, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
He then threw a hand grenade before detonating his suicide vest among the morning crowds. Senior police official Faisal Shehzad said the bomber had up to eight kilogrammes of explosives packed into his vest. Some of the wounded are in a critical condition.
Rescue official Haris Habib said: “So far we recovered 12 bodies of the lawyers, police personnel and civilians. “Besides this, we rescued the injured, including lawyers, police personnel and civilians from the spot.” Also on Friday, a group of militants belonging to stormed a Christian neighbourhood near Warsak Dam, just north of Peshawar.
Police official Shaukat Khan said four militants wearing suicide vests entered the colony and one of them went into a church, but no one was there. He added the attackers killed one Christian. The military said the suicide bombers died after soldiers backed by army helicopters exchanged gunfire with the them.
It is not clear if any of the militants had detonated their explosives. Three security officials and two civilian guards were also wounded in the attacks. Mr Khan said a quick response from the civilian guards and security forces prevented more deaths, and the country’s army chief General Raheel Sharif praised security forces for foiling the attack.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned both attacks, adding that militants were on the back foot and were “showing their frustration by attacking soft targets”. He said: “These cowardly attacks cannot shatter our unflinching resolve in our war against terrorism.
“They shall not get space to hide in Pakistan.” Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a faction of the Pakistani Taliban, has claimed responsibility for both attacks. It has also said it was behind a massive suicide blast three weeks ago that killed a number of lawyers in the southwestern city of Quetta, as well as the Lahore Easter bombing that killed 75 people.
Pakistan’s legal community is said to be frequently the subject of targeted killings and small-scale attacks by militants, who are also known to hit soft targets such as schools. On Thursday, the military said it has prevented Islamic State expanding its network in Pakistan, by arresting 309 suspects in recent years, including IS members from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan.