PESHAWAR/CAHRSADDA - At least eight people including a lawyer were killed and 25 others injured Tuesday when three suicide bombers struck a lower court in Tangi tehsil of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Charsadda district.

Police and eyewitnesses said the three attackers equipped with automatic assault rifles, hand grenades and suicide vests stormed the entry point of the court complex.

Upon being challenged by on-duty policemen, two of the bombers blew themselves up at the gates.

The third bomber was briefly on the loose inside the busy complex but was killed some 20 minutes later when a hand grenade he was carrying exploded during the exchange of fire with the police.

“I had turned up to the court for a hearing when I saw three attackers resorting to firing at the policemen before two of them blew themselves up,” Ziarat Gul, an eyewitness, who had also sustained injuries, told The Nation.

“So far seven people have been killed and 15 wounded,” Charsadda District Police Officer Sohail Khalid said, adding that a lawyer was among the dead. Hospital sources said one of the injured had succumbed to his injuries later, raising the death toll to eight.

“Bomb disposal experts told us that each bomber was wearing seven to eight kilograms of explosives,” Sohail Khalid told reporters.

After the attack, a heavy contingent of police rushed to the scene and arrested a suspect from the blast site.

The attack was claimed by the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) faction of the Pakistani Taliban, which carried out a series of apparently coordinated assaults last week including a powerful bomb blast in Lahore which killed 14 people.

Earlier this month the group vowed a fresh offensive on targets in Pakistan including the judiciary.

Six of the dead were identified as Rooh Ullah and his son Miftah Ullah, Munsif, Nim-ul-Maula, Ghafar Ali, and Hashir Ali.

Some of the injured were Hazrat Bilal, Sabz Ali, Sher Muhammad, Sajid, Islah Khan, Ishtiaq, Shan Ghor, Yousuf Baba, Naushad, Fazle Rabi, Hameed, Lalbaaz, Rizna, Muqadar Shah and Ayub Rehman.

The two back-to-back suicide blasts also damaged several vehicles and smashed windowpanes of the nearby houses.

Besides lawyers and judges, hundreds of litigants visit the building every day.

“The terrorists had come and wanted to kill as many people as they could inside the judicial complex,” DIG Ijaz Khan said.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s office condemned the latest assault. “We are a steadfast nation and will not be deterred by such attacks. Our government will continue to fight against terrorist elements and we will succeed,” a statement said.

COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa lauded security forces effective response to the attackers. First tier police response has saved many lives, he said.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf chief Imran Khan also appreciated the courage exhibited by the police that saved many valuable lives. He condemned the attack and expressed his sympathy with the bereaved families.

Talking to media, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Health Minister Shahram Tarkai said that emergency has been declared at all the hospitals in Charsadda and Peshawar.

An AFP reporter at the scene said the area was littered with human remains, while a pile of law books stained with blood and riddled with bullets lay strewn outside an office.

Police scoured the area for evidence as military helicopters whirred overhead. An old man whose four-year-old grandson died in the attack wept.

Another man who witnessed the attack, Muhammad Hussain, said he was about to enter the complex when he heard the blast.

“When I looked up I saw three armed men, hurling grenades and opening fire,” said the 35-year-old civil servant, adding he sought shelter in a nearby police barracks from where he heard the gunbattle.

“This continued for some minutes and then I heard another big bang. Some minutes later a policeman told me that it’s all over.”

A witness, Mohammad Shahbaz Khan, described scenes of panic, saying several people scaled the walls of the building to escape.

“Lawyers and other people in the complex started running to save their lives. There was panic and nobody knew where to go,” Shahbaz told Reuters.

Television footage showed wounded people being taken to hospital. Provincial health officials said the critically wounded would be treated at a major hospital in Peshawar, about 30km from Charsadda.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MPA Shaukat Yousafzai said according to his information the militants had come from Mohmand Agency which is adjacent to Tangi. “Security institutions are alert in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” he said.

 

 

Bombers were Uzbek: DPO

Charssadda Sohail Khalid has said that all the three bombers who attacked on Tangi court were Uzbek nationals.

In a brief chat with media he said that investigation of the attack has started on scientific lines and considerable progress has been made.

He said that four suspects have been arrested by the district police after the bombing and they have been taken to undisclosed location for interrogation.

He said that three 9mm pistols and five unexploded hand grenades have also been recovered from their possession.

He maintained that the bombers detonated five hand grenades during the attack.

 

 

Judiciary a frequent target

Lawyers and the judiciary are frequent targets of the militants in the country. Among last week’s assaults was a bomb blast targeting a van carrying judges in Peshawar, which killed the van driver and a passerby.

Last August JuA along with the Islamic State group claimed a suicide bombing in Quetta that killed 73 people, including many of the southwestern city’s legal community.

Police and troops had been on high alert after last week’s wave of attacks, which killed more than 100 people.

Most, including the Lahore bomb, were claimed by JuA, a faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

But the Islamic State group claimed the deadliest of last week’s assaults, a suicide bomb at a Sufi shrine in Sindh on Thursday which killed 90 people and wounded hundreds.

Islamic State has a small but increasingly prominent presence in Pakistan. Fighters loyal to it are known to be operating under different names in Pakistan to attack the government, army and members of religious minorities.

The emergence of IS and a TTP resurgence is presenting a major challenge to the country, which had enjoyed a dramatic improvement in security over the past two years after a military-led crackdown begun in 2014.

The security forces launched a crackdown in the wake of the recent attacks, saying they killed dozens of “terrorists” and carried out strikes on militant hideouts along the border with Afghanistan. Hundreds of families have been displaced by the firing on both sides of the border, according to officials.

Condemnations

Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar condemned the terror attack and offered his heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and prayed for speedy recovery of injured people.

Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb said government is committed to root out the menace of terrorism. She said that terrorists have no religion.

Pakistan Peoples Party Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari said “the nation has to get united to fight this menace… government has to take firm actions against terrorists… It is necessary to eradicate all nurseries of terror.”

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also denounced the attack and expressed deep anguish and distress over unabated wave of terrorist attacks across the country.

The chief ministers of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Balochistan, KP Governor Iqbal Zafar Jaghra, Adviser to KP CM on Information Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali, Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, leaders of Jamaat Islami and ANP and others also condemned the attack and condoled with the bereaved families.

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blood and riddled with bullets lay strewn outside an office.

Police scoured the area for evidence as military helicopters whirred overhead. An old man whose four-year-old grandson died in the attack wept.

Another man who witnessed the attack, Muhammad Hussain, said he was about to enter the complex when he heard the blast.

“When I looked up I saw three armed men, hurling grenades and opening fire,” said the 35-year-old civil servant, adding he sought shelter in a nearby police barracks from where he heard the gunbattle.

“This continued for some minutes and then I heard another big bang. Some minutes later a policeman told me that it’s all over.”

A witness, Mohammad Shahbaz Khan, described scenes of panic, saying several people scaled the walls of the building to escape.

“Lawyers and other people in the complex started running to save their lives. There was panic and nobody knew where to go,” Shahbaz told Reuters.

Television footage showed wounded people being taken to hospital. Provincial health officials said the critically wounded would be treated at a major hospital in Peshawar, about 30km from Charsadda.

Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf MPA Shaukat Yousafzai said according to his information the militants had come from Mohmand Agency which is adjacent to Tangi. “Security institutions are alert in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” he said.

Bombers were Uzbek: DPO

Charssadda Sohail Khalid has said that all the three bombers who attacked on Tangi court were Uzbek nationals.

In a brief chat with media he said that investigation of the attack has started on scientific lines and considerable progress has been made.

He said that four suspects have been arrested by the district police after the bombing and they have been taken to undisclosed location for interrogation.

He said that three 9mm pistols and five unexploded hand grenades have also been recovered from their possession.

He maintained that the bombers detonated five hand grenades during the attack.

Judiciary a frequent target

Lawyers and the judiciary are frequent targets of the militants in the country. Among last week’s assaults was a bomb blast targeting a van carrying judges in Peshawar, which killed the van driver and a passerby.

Last August JuA along with the Islamic State group claimed a suicide bombing in Quetta that killed 73 people, including many of the southwestern city’s legal community.

Police and troops had been on high alert after last week’s wave of attacks, which killed more than 100 people.

Most, including the Lahore bomb, were claimed by JuA, a faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan. But the Islamic State group claimed the deadliest of last week’s assaults, a suicide bomb at a Sufi shrine in Sindh on Thursday which killed 90 people and wounded hundreds.

Islamic State has a small but increasingly prominent presence in Pakistan. Fighters loyal to it are known to be operating under different names in Pakistan to attack the government, army and members of religious minorities.

The emergence of IS and a TTP resurgence is presenting a major challenge to the country, which had enjoyed a dramatic improvement in security over the past two years after a military-led crackdown begun in 2014.

The security forces launched a crackdown in the wake of the recent attacks, saying they killed dozens of “terrorists” and carried out strikes on militant hideouts along the border with Afghanistan. Hundreds of families have been displaced by the firing on both sides of the border, according to officials.

Condemnations

Chief Justice of Pakistan Mian Saqib Nisar condemned the terror attack and offered his heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families and prayed for speedy recovery of injured people.

Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb said government is committed to root out the menace of terrorism. She said that terrorists have no religion.

Pakistan Peoples Party Co-Chairman Asif Ali Zardari said “the nation has to get united to fight this menace… government has to take firm actions against terrorists… It is necessary to eradicate all nurseries of terror.”

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari also denounced the attack and expressed deep anguish and distress over unabated wave of terrorist attacks across the country.

The chief ministers of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Punjab and Balochistan, KP Governor Iqbal Zafar Jaghra, Adviser to KP CM on Information Mushtaq Ahmad Ghani, Interior Minister Chaudhry Nisar Ali, Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao, leaders of Jamaat Islami and ANP and others also condemned the attack and condoled with the bereaved families.