Pakistani Christians were hit by two gun- and suicide-bomb attacks on Friday, leaving 12 dead and at least 54 wounded.
The Associated Press reports Taliban “militants” stormed the Christian colony near Peshawar, early in the morning. Four attackers and one Christian were killed in the ensuing shoot-out with security forces, along with three security officials and two civilian guards wounded. The swift response from security teams was credited with preventing more deaths.
“Local police official Shaukat Khan said four suicide bombers entered the Christian colony. One of them went into a church, but no one was there at the time. He said the attackers killed one Christian in the neighborhood. It was not immediately clear if any of the suicide bombers had detonated their explosives,” the Associated Press writes.
Meanwhile, in the town of Mardan, about 25 miles away, a suicide bomber threw a grenade at the local district court, after police prevented him from attacking a group of lawyers in the bar room.
He then detonated his suicide vest, killing and wounding a number of lawyers, police, and bystanders. Sky News quotes a Pakistani police official who said the killer was carrying at least eight kilograms of explosives.
“The bomber managed to get seven or eight meters inside the compound, but the police engaged him, prompting him to trigger his suicide vest,” police officer Ijaz Khan told the New York Times. The carnage would have been even worse if the bomber had reached his crowded target.
The AP says a breakaway Taliban faction called Jamaat-ul-Ahrar has claimed responsibility for the attack on the Christian colony. The New York Times report says Jamaat-ul-Ahrar has also claimed the Mardan attack.
“We appeal to civilians to remain away from law enforcement installations and these un-Islamic courts. We will target them more,” a spokesman for the terrorist group told Reuters.
Reuters notes that the attacks came the 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.”
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said the bombings would not “shatter our unflinching resolve in our war against terrorism,” and he said such attacks on “soft targets” demonstrated the “frustration” of the terrorists.
“They shall not get space to hide in Pakistan,” Sharif declared.