PESHAWAR - Three civilian employees of Pakistan Army mess were killed in a targeted attack by unidentified bike-riders in Landay Sarak area falling in the jurisdiction of Khazana Police Station here on Sunday.

Police said the employees were supplying milk to army mess when armed assailants riding on a motorcycle opened fire on them. The three employees were killed on the spot. The bodies were shifted to mortuary of Khyber Teaching Hospital for autopsy.

The attackers used handguns to target the employees, said Shaukat Khan, a senior police officer.

Police said that bullets and 30-bore pistols were recovered from the site and the incident was being investigated from deferent angles. Police also launched a search operation in the area and arrested several suspects.

A faction of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Jamaatul Ahrar, claimed responsibility for the attack. Ahsanullah Ahsan, spokesman for the group, said in a statement that the three soldiers were targeted by the group to avenge the ‘military’s animosity with mosques.’

Dad Mohammad, a police officer, said the incident was second such attack in this area - which is close to Mohmand tribal region. Last week gunmen shot and killed a prominent physician who was instrumental in anti-polio campaigns, he said. Militants have been involved in similar attacks in the area.

On Friday, a suicide blast ripped through a crowded mosque in the Mohmand Agency, killing at least 23 people and wounding dozens of others.

JuA claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack, saying the bomber targeted the mosque because members of a pro-government tribal militia, named the Peace Committee, were among the worshippers.

Last month, the United States designated JuA a global terrorist organisation, saying the group has staged multiple attacks on civilians, religious minorities, military personnel and law enforcement agencies, and was responsible for the killing of two Pakistani employees of the US consulate in Peshawar in early March.

Pakistani officials allege the terrorist group operates out of Afghan border areas and receives support from the intelligence agency of the neighboring country, charges Kabul denies. Militants linked to the Pakistani Taliban and JuA have killed tens of thousands of people over the past decade in suicide and other terrorist attacks across Pakistan.