Peshawar: At least 17 people were killed on Monday when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden vest in Pakistan's Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, police said.
A Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) factional group Jamatul Ahrar, in an emailed statement, claimed responsibility for the attack, terming it as a "revenge of the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri", killer of former Punjab governor Salman Taseer.
The blast in Charsadda district of the province left over 30 people injured. Two policemen and a woman were among the 17 dead.
Official sources at a nearby hospital told Dawn they received 13 bodies, while the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar received four.
A local police official Sohail Khalid told media that the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber.
The attacker was intercepted by policemen stationed at the court gate while attempting to enter the court premises.
The cops fired at the attacker who detonated his explosives-laden vest.
At the time of the explosion, the courts were crowded after a break over the weekend.
Some vehicles parked in the vicinity of the blast site caught fire.
Security and emergency teams reached the blast site and sealed the area.
The incident came at a time when law-enforcement agencies are said to be making gains in implementation of the National Action Plan (NAP) and taking counter-terrorism measures across the country.
The TTP, also known as the Pakistani Taliban, has been waging an insurgency against the state since 2007 in a bid to impose a strict interpretation of Islamic law.
A series of military operations in tribal areas -- the latest of which was Zarb-e-Azb launched in 2014 -- have reduced the TTP’s ability to hit major targets regularly, but attacks on security and civilian targets do continue to occur.
Sympathising deeply with the bereaved families, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif deeply condemned the terrorist attack.
“The premier has extended his heartfelt condolences to the victims’ families and prayed to Allah Almighty for grant of courage to them for bearing the irreparable losses,” a statement issued by the Prime Minister’s office said.
Sharif further said that the countless sacrifices by the country’s law enforcement agencies in the fight against terrorism will not go in vain. “The nation is united in its commitment to wipe out this menace from our soil,” he added.
“Those who embraced martyrdom in the line of duty sacrificed their today to safeguard a peaceful tomorrow for our future generations, and they deserve gratitude and recognition of the highest degree,” said the prime minister.