Peshawar, September 3 (NIA): At least 18 people were killed when militants attacked a Christian colony and a court house in North Western Pakistan on Friday, agencies reported.
Two bombs killed at least 14 people and wounded 50 outside a court complex in Mardan, in the Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa Province hours after militants killed at least four in a Christian neighborhood in the same region.
Both attacks were claimed by Jamaat-ur-Ahrar, a breakaway Pakistani Taliban faction believed to be behind some of the past year’s deadliest attacks, including last month’s bombing of lawyers in the city of Quetta that killed 74 people.
Haris Habib, chief rescue officer in the city of Mardan in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, said that bodies of policemen, lawyers and other civilians were recovered, Reuters reported.
The twin attacks in the northwest came one day after Pakistan’s army touted the successes of its fight against myriad armed jihadist groups, though a spokesman acknowledged there was still a long way to go.
Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said “Friday’s latest bombing would not shatter our unflinching resolve in our war against terrorism. These receding elements are showing frustration by attacking our soft targets. They shall not get space to hide in Pakistan.”
But Jamaat-ur-Ahrar’s spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, vowed to stage more attacks.
“We appeal to civilians to remain away from law enforcement installations and these un-Islamic courts. We will target them more.”
Attack On Christian Colony
Four terrorists of the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar trying to attack a Christian colony on Peshawar’s outskirts were killed during a stand-off with security forces Friday morning.
Soldiers backed by army helicopters exchanged gunfire with militants in suicide vests who entered the colony around 6 am after hitting a security guard, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.
All four attackers detonated their suicide jackets, Additional Inspector General Bomb Disposal Squad Shafqat Malik said, adding that rifles and five hand grenades were recovered from the attackers.
Two Frontier Corps soldiers, a police constable and two civilian guards were injured during an exchange of fire with terrorists, ISPR said.
Two of the terrorists took cover in under construction houses, one hid inside a house, and one was found outside in the colony, the AIG said.
The AIG termed the colony clear after a house-to-house search operation was carried out.
Peshawar 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 located on the outskirts of Peshawar near the borders of Khyber Agency and Mohmand Agency. Situated close by are an Frontier Corps training centre, a cadet college, and an Army Public School.
These installations were initially the target of the attack, security agency sources told Dawn News but since the security forces had already received intelligence and were alert to the threat, the terrorists moved in to attack the Christian colony instead, they said.
The area, which is located near the Pak-Afghan border, is susceptible to cross-border movement of terrorists. The Jamaat ur Ahrar has a presence in the area.
Army Claims Progress In Containing Militancy
The attack on Christian Colony came 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 $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 had embraced martyrdom, including 18 officers, 35 junior commissioned officers and 484 soldiers.