Security forces killed three suicide attackers who attempted to wreak havoc at a local court in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Charsadda district, officials said Tuesday.
DSP Charsadda Fayaz Khan said five civilians have been killed in the attack, which the proscribed Jamaat-ul-Ahraar (JuA) has claimed.
Provincial government sources said one lawyer is among those killed and 15 others are injured.
At least three attackers attempted to enter the court premises through the main gate. They opened fire and also threw hand grenades, prompting retaliatory fire by police and security forces deployed at the court.
One bomber was killed in the firing at the gate, whereas the second was killed as he entered the court. The third bomber was killed when he detonated his explosives.
Eyewitnesses said the remains of the bombers were lying on the roadside along with their explosives and ammunition.
Town resident Mohammad Shahbaz told Reuters he was inside the judicial complex when the suicide bombers stormed it.
“I escaped towards the canteen and climbed the wall to save my life. But there were many people dead and injured,” he said.
It was not immediately clear how many people were inside, but hundreds of people including lawyers, judges and citizens normally attend such district court complexes every day.
Upto 10 ambulances were dispatched to Charsadda from Peshawar, where the Lady Reading Hospital has been put on high alert.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, whose party rules in KP, lauded quick action by the police that averted a higher death toll.
Army Chief Gen Qamar Javed Bajwa also praised the security personnel’s response to the attack, DG Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Asif Ghafoor said in a tweet.
The attack comes as security has been heightened across KP and the country after the recent wave of terror.
Charsadda is a nearly 40 minute drive from KP’s provincial capital Peshawar, and has been a target of terror attacks for nearly a decade.
A suicide bomber had struck a local court in Charsadda’s Shabqadar area last year in March, killing 17 people. That attack too was claimed by Jamaat-ul-Ahraar.
Earlier in January of 2016, militants attacked the Bacha Khan University in Charsadda and shot dead 21 people.
Resurgence in terror attacks
Pakistan is experiencing a fresh resurgence in terror attacks.
In the last 10 days, over 100 people have killed in terror attacks in Sindh, Balochistan, KP, Fata and Punjab.
On Feb 13, a suicide blast on Lahore’s Mall road saw 13 people dead and 85 injured. The banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility.
In another incident on Feb 13, two Bomb Disposal Squad personnel were killed in Quetta while trying to defuse a roadside bomb at Sariab road.
On Feb 15, five people lost their lives in a suicide blast outside a government office in Mohmand Agency. JuA had claimed the responsibility for the attack.
In a separate suicide attack on Feb 15, one person died as a suicide attacker targeted a judges’ vehicle in Peshawar. TTP claimed the attack.
Know more: Suicide bomber targets Peshawar judges’ vehicle; driver killed
On Feb 16, in what is said to be the worst attack in the recent surge of terrorism, a suicide attack on the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar Shrine in Sehwan saw over 85 people dead while more than 200 were injured. The responsibility for the attack was claimed by the militant Islamic State (IS) group.
The same day, on Feb 16, an IED blast in Awaran, Balochistan left three security officials dead.