At least 23 killed, over 40 others injured after motorcyclist rams vehicle into NADRA office.
At least 23 people were killed and over 40 others injured after a suicide bomber on a motorbike crashed into the main gate of a government office in Mardan, officials said.
The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (Jamaat ul Ahrar) have claimed responsibility for the attack. Ehsanullah Ehsan, the group’s spokesman, said: “We claim responsibility for the attack in Mardan on NADRA office. It was targeted because it is an important part of this war.” The spokesman vowed that the militants would continue targeting government installations in future.
“It was a suicide bomber riding on a motorbike. The death toll could rise,” said Faisal Shahzad, district police chief. Ali Khan, a doctor at the district headquarters hospital confirmed the death toll and placed the number of injured at “more than 40.” Dr. Haris Khan of the Mardan Medical Complex confirmed that 42 injured, and 23 dead had been received at the facility. He said 10 of the injured were in critical condition and had been referred to the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar.
The blast ripped through the front entrance of a regional branch of the National Database and Registration Authority (NADRA), which is responsible for issuing ID cards.
“The bomber tried to enter the main building, but was prevented from doing so through the bravery of the guard,” said Shahzad, adding that the death toll could have been much higher otherwise because of the long queues of applicants for national identity cards.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif strongly condemned the attack and expressed grief and sorrow over the loss of innocent lives.
The Pakistan Army has been battling a homegrown Islamist insurgency since 2004 after the U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan caused militants to flee across the border where they began to foment unrest. More than 27,000 civilians and security forces personnel have died in terror attacks since that time, according to the South Asia Terrorism Portal, a monitoring site.
Overall levels of violence dropped significantly in 2015 following a nationwide crackdown on militants that involved major offensives in the semi-autonomous tribal areas and the country’s biggest city of Karachi.