Fourteen dead, 50 others wounded in Taliban claimed bombing at district court.
At least 14 people have been killed and over 50 others wounded after a Taliban suicide bomber attacked a district court in Mardan early Friday, police said, the latest assault targeting Pakistan’s legal community.
The bomber shot his way through the main gate leading to the district court, before throwing a hand grenade and detonating his suicide vest among the morning crowds, senior police official Ejaz Khan told reporters.
Rescuers were picking their way through scattered human remains and bloodstained office equipment and files to collect survivors, witnesses said.
Amir Hussain, president of the Mardan Bar Association, said he was in a room nearby when the bomb detonated. “There was dust everywhere, and people were crying loud with pain,” he said.
His suit drenched in blood, he added: “I started picking up the wounded and putting them in cars to take them to hospital. I did not know if the people I was rescuing were dead or alive.” Lawyers were being targeted because they are “an important part of democracy, and these terrorists are opposed to democracy,” he said. “Our morale is not dented. It is still high,” he added.
Nasir Khan Durrani, provincial police chief, told AFP the death toll had reached 14, with at least 58 people wounded, three of whom were critical.
Police official Faisal Shehzad, said the dead included police and lawyers. Officials said the bomber had up to eight kilograms of explosives packed into his vest.
A faction of the Pakistani Taliban, the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, claimed responsibility for the attacks on a Christian colony near Peshawar and the Mardan court in a statement issued to local media.
Ehsanullah Ehsan, spokesman for Ahrar, said: “We have carried out these attacks in response to the press conference that was held on Thursday by Lt. Gen. Asim Bajwa, the spokesperson for the Pakistan Army.” Warning of more attacks across Pakistan until shariah law is imposed in the country, Ehsan added: “He [Bajwa] claimed in his press conference that the Army has eliminated militant groups operating against country’s interest and today we have proved he was wrong in his claim.”
The attack in Peshawar was foiled by security forces, who shot dead four suicide bombers while they were attempting to attack a Christian colony. Soldiers backed by Army helicopters exchanged gunfire with the militants in suicide vests before killing them, the Army said.
Ahrar has also said it was behind an attack on lawyers in Quetta, which killed 73 people on Aug. 8, as well as the Lahore Easter bombing which killed 75 people in Pakistan’s deadliest attack this year.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned Friday’s attacks, adding that militants were on the back foot and were “showing [their] frustration by attacking soft targets. They shall not get space to hide in Pakistan.”