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Suspected Taliban Suicide Bomber Hits Court Complex in Pakistan, killing at least 12 people and wounding about 50

District mayor Himatyat Ullah told reporters an armed attacker threw a hand grenade at security guards at the gate before detonating the explosives strapped to his body

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Representational Image of Bomber attack. Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Authorities in northwestern Pakistan say a suicide bombing attack on a court complex has killed at least 12 people and wounded about 50 others.

The violence happened Friday in the city of Mardan in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

District mayor Himatyat Ullah told reporters an armed attacker threw a hand grenade at security guards at the gate before detonating the explosives strapped to his body.

Authorities and hospital sources say a number of lawyers are among the victims and the death toll is likely to increase.

The bombing occurred hours after Pakistani troops killed four suicide bombers before they could detonate their devices in a Christian neighborhood in the provincial capital of Peshawar. The attack prompted authorities to step up security around churches in the province and elsewhere in Pakistan.

A military statement said the firefight with the attackers wounded two soldiers, a police guard and two civilians.

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A spokesman for the breakaway faction of the extremist Pakistani Taliban namely Jamaatul Ahrar (JuA) told VOA it was behind the two attacks, though it was not immediately possible to independently verify the claim.

A suicide attack outside a hospital in southwestern city of Quetta last month killed more than 75 people, mostly lawyers. JuA had also claimed responsibility for that bombing. The United States recently designated the group as a global terrorist organization.

Pakistani officials allege JuA operates out of Afghanistan’s border areas and is being supported by the neighboring country’s intelligence agency, charges Kabul rejects.

Friday’s violence happened a day after the Pakistan military announced it has cleared northwestern semi-autonomous tribal districts of militant networks and “forestalled” Islamic State’s attempts to establish a footprint in the country. The tribal areas are located on the Afghan border and have traditionally been condemned as a hub of local and international militant outfits.

Army spokesman Lt. General Asim Bajwa said Thursday security forces have arrested more than 300 IS-linked militants, including Syrians and Afghans. He said they were plotting attacks on government, diplomatic and other civilian facilities, including media houses.

“They tried to make an ingress, and they failed and they have been apprehended so far,” Bajwa told reporters.

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The general said that since the military launched a counterterrorism offensive against the Pakistani Taliban and its allied groups near the Afghan border two years ago, more than 3,500 militants around 540 soldiers have been killed. Additionally, Bajwa noted the war has also cost Pakistan an estimated $107 billion.

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He released the details in response to U.S. and Afghan criticism that Pakistan has been fighting anti-state militants but sparing the Haqqani Network and the Afghan Taliban allegedly using Pakistani soil for deadly attacks in Afghanistan.

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“Terrorists of all organizations, including Haqqanis, including Afghan Taliban, have been killed and some apprehended … so if you say that you know actions have not been taken or (are) not being taken, that is wrong,” he said.

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India Says Pakistan’s Links with Pulwama Attack Clear For All to See

He said while there are claims to offer dialogue from Pakistan, it continues to shelter terror outfits

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Arun Jaitley
"The most favoured nation status which has been granted to Pakistan stands withdrawn.", says Jaitley. Pixabay

India has rejected Pakistan Foreign Secretary Tehmina Janjua’s claims denying her country’s links to the Pulwama terror attack, saying that JeM, which claimed responsibility for the attack on Thursday, is based in Pakistan, and the “links are clear and evident and for all to see”.

The External Affairs Ministry spokesperson on Friday termed as “preposterous” the demand for an investigation, saying there is a video of the suicide bomber declaring himself a member of the terror group Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM).

The spokesperson said India has not seen any constructive approach from Pakistan on bilateral relations and it has been sheltering terrorists and terror organisations such as JeM. He said Islamabad has not taken any action against such groups despite international demands.

India also demanded that Pakistan take immediate and verifiable action against terrorists and terror groups operating from territories under its control to create a conducive atmosphere in the region free of terror.

The spokesperson’s response came over Pakistan Foreign Secretary’s briefing rejecting Pakistan’s involvement in the terror attack on a paramilitary convoy in Jammu and Kashmir that killed at least 45 troopers. Janjua met envoys of P-5 countries late on Friday.

The spokesperson said JeM has claimed responsibility for the attack.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement that the attack was a matter of “grave concern” and it had been condemning “heightened acts of violence in the (Kashmir) Valley”. Pixabay

“The organisation and its leadership are located in Pakistan. LeT and other terror groups have welcomed the news of the attack. These groups are also based in Pakistan. Pakistan cannot claim that it is unaware of their presence and their activities.

“They have not taken any action against these groups despite international demands, especially against groups and individuals proscribed by the UN and other countries. The links to Pakistan are clear and evident for all to see. Its own Ministers have shared the same podium with UN proscribed terrorists,” the spokesperson said.

He said there was audio-visual material linking JeM to the terror attack.

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“The demand for an investigation is preposterous when there is a video of the suicide bomber declaring himself a member of the JeM. There are also other audio-visual and print material linking JeM to the terrorist attack. We have therefore no doubt that the claim is firmly established,” the spokesperson said.

He said while there are claims to offer dialogue from Pakistan, it continues to shelter terror outfits.

“We have not seen any constructive approach from Pakistan on relations with India. What we have noticed however, are claims to offer dialogue on the one hand, while sponsoring and sheltering terrorists and terrorist organisations such as JeM on the other,” the spokesperson added. (IANS)