Terror strikes Pakistan: 12 dead, 52 wounded in blast at court; 4 suicide bombers killed in Peshawar
The Pakistani Taliban faction Jamaat-ur-Ahrar has claimed responsibility for the suicide attack on a Christian colony in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial capital of Peshawar.
Islamabad: In the latest assault targeting Pakistan`s legal community, at least 12 people have been killed and 52 wounded after a suicide bomber attacked a district court in the Pakistani city of Mardan early Friday.
The bomber threw hand grenades before detonating a suicide vest among the morning crowds at the court, senior police official Faisal Shehzad told AFP.
"So far we recovered 12 bodies of the lawyers, police personnel and civilians. Besides this, we rescued 52 injured, including lawyers, police personnel and civilians from the spot," Haris Habib, chief rescue officer in the city of Mardan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where the blasts took place, told Reuters.
No group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack. Pakistan`s legal community are frequently the subject of targeted killings and small-scale attacks by militants, who are also known to hit soft targets such as schools.
Earlier in the day, militants launched an attack on a Christian colony in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provincial capital of Peshawar, 60 kilometres (37 miles) to the west of Mardan.
The Pakistani Taliban faction Jamaat-ur-Ahrar has claimed responsibility for the suicide attack, in which at least one security guard was killed.
Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said there were "several deaths" in the attack on the neighbourhood near Warsak Dam, in the Khyber tribal region, 20 km (12 miles) northwest of the city of Peshawar.
The military said four attackers wearing suicide vests and carrying firearms were killed.
"Four suicide bombers with arms and ammunition entered the Christian Colony at Warsak after hitting a security guard at 5.50 am (00:50 GMT)," the Pakistan Army said in a statement.
"Security forces promptly responded and surrounded the area. Exchange of fire took place and all four terrorists were killed," it said, adding that two paramilitary soldiers, a policeman and two security guards were wounded in the gunfight.
The "situation is under control", the statement said, adding that troops were now carrying out a house-to-house search of the area.
Discrimination and violence against religious minorities is commonplace in Pakistan, where Muslims account for more than 90 percent of the population.
The Pakistani Taliban in particular routinely target minority groups, and in 2011 gunned down Shahbaz Bhatti, a Christian who was federal minister for minority affairs.
Taliban militants stormed a school in Peshawar in December 2014, killing more than 150 people, mostly children, in Pakistan`s deadliest-ever terror attack.
The Army launched an operation in June 2014 in a bid to wipe out militant bases in the tribal areas and so bring an end to the bloody insurgency that has cost thousands of civilian lives since 2004.
(With Agency inputs)