Blasts kill 17 in Pakistan

The Jamaatul Ahrar militant group claimed the attack on Christian colony

Peshawar: Two blasts took place outside a district court in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, in the northwestern part of the country on Friday, killing at least twelve people and wounding 52, media reported.

This is the second attack in space of hours in the region.

In the earlier attack on a Christian Colony in Peshawar, at least one civilian and four suicide bombers were killed.

Haris Habib, chief rescue officer in the city of Mardan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province where the twin blasts occurred, said, “First there was a small blast followed by a big blast.”

The exchange of fire between an unknown number of suspected terrorists and law enforcement personnel reportedly began around 6 am near a neighborhood called Christian Colony, which is close to the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, Dawn online reported.

The Jamaatul Ahrar militant group claimed the attack.

Director General Inter-Services Public Relations Asim Bajwa confirmed “all four suicide bombers were killed” and a clearance operation is underway.

The gunmen were wearing suicide jackets, the sources said.

Two of the attackers detonated their suicide jackets, and two others were killed by security forces, the sources said.

Peshawar has suffered numerous terrorist attacks. The city suffered its worst terror attack in December 2014 when Taliban gunmen massacred more than 150 people, most of them children, at an army-run school.

But recently there had been a lull in violence. The last deadly attack in the city came in March this year when a bomb ripped through a bus carrying government employees, killing 15.

Christian Colony is situated on the outskirts of Peshawar near the borders of Khyber Agency and Mohmand Agency. Situated close by are a training center, a cadet college, and an Army Public School.

These installations were initially the target of the attack, security agency sources told DawnNews, but since security forces had already received intelligence and were alert to the threat, the terrorists moved in to attack the Christian Colony instead, they said.

A watchman in the colony was the first to fire at the terrorists, they said.

The area, which is situated near the Pak-Afghan border, is susceptible to cross-border movement of terrorists. Tehreek-i-Taliban splinter group Jamaatul Ahrar has a presence in the area, the sources said.

The attack on Christian Colony comes barely a day after Director-General (DG) Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) Asim Bajwa gave an exhaustive rundown of progress made against militants in the country’s northwestern region in Operation Zarb-i-Azb which was launched in June 2014.

He highlighted that Pakistan had suffered a cumulative loss of US$106.98 billion in the war on terror between 2001 and 2015. “We are not doing it for anyone but ourselves,” he stressed.

He said 3,500 terrorists had been eliminated during the course of Operation Zarb-i-Azb, while 2,272 soldiers were and 537 personnel were killed. They included 18 officers, 35 junior commissioned officers and 484 soldiers.

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