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Suicide bombers conduct deadly attack on Pakistani court

S.S. Mirza, AFP | Security has been tightened across Pakistan following a deadly attack on the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar Sufi shrine on February 16, 2017.

Suicide bombers attacked a court complex in northern Pakistan on Tuesday, killing at least five people, officials said, in the latest incident in a new surge of Islamist violence.

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One bomber was briefly on the loose inside the busy court complex in Charsadda district, but was killed by police some 20 minutes after the attack began, officials said.

A second bomber was shot dead by security forces and a third died when he detonated his vest outside the main gates of the facility in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province near the Afghan border.

"So far five people have been killed and 15 wounded," Suhail Khalid, district police chief, told AFP, adding that a lawyer was among the dead.

'Ongoing search for facilitators who may have worked with attackers'

The three attackers had opened fire on police and thrown grenades as they tried to battle their way into the complex, Khalid said.

Each bomber wearing 7-8kg of explosives

"Bomb disposal experts told us that each bomber was wearing seven to eight kilogrammes of explosives," he told reporters in Charsadda. "Police fought bravely and saved Charsadda from devastation."

It was not immediately clear how many people were inside at the time of the attack, but hundreds of people including lawyers, judges and citizens normally attend court sessions and seek legal services in district court complexes every day.

Mohammad Shah Baz, a resident of Charsadda, told Reuters he was inside the judicial complex when the suicide bombers stormed in.

"I escaped towards the canteen and climbed the wall to save my life. But there were many people dead and injured," he said.

Pakistani Taliban faction claims attack

The attack on the Charsadda complex was claimed by the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) faction of the Pakistani Taliban.

“We claim responsibility for the attack,” the group’s spokesperson Asad Mansoor said in a phone call to several local media organizations.

Pakistani security forces have been on high alert following a recent upsurge in Islamist attacks. On Thursday, a suicide attack on the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine in the town of Sehwan in Sindh province killed more than 80 people, including women and children.

The attack on the Sufi shrine took place during the Thursday evening dhamaal (a Sufi ritual) when the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar shrine was packed with worshippers.

The Islamic State (IS) group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Sufi shrines -- where a mystical, syncretic, form of Islam is practiced -- have been frequently targeted by militant Sunni groups in Pakistan.

A string of bombings in Pakistan over the past 10 days has killed more than 100 people.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, REUTERS)

 

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