Suicide bombers linked to the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) faction of the Pakistani Taliban killed at least seven people, including a child, and injured dozens of others inside a court complex in Pakistan’s volatile Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, a jihadist hotbed on the country’s border with Afghanistan.
Ijaz Khan, chief of KP’s Charsadda district police, told Reuters, “The terrorists had come and wanted to kill as many people as they could inside the judicial complex.”
According to the Independent, “the [JuA] group claimed responsibility for the court attack via Taliban propaganda channels, issuing a statement in Urdu claiming ‘apostates were sent to hell by martyrdom fighters.’”
The deadly incident follows a wave of fatal Taliban and Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) attacks in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.
“Police had been on high alert after receiving intelligence that terror groups could target courts in Charsadda, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, following similar attacks elsewhere in Pakistan,” reports the Independent.
“More than 100 people have been killed in a wave of atrocities that started last week, including an ISIS suicide bombing that killed at least 90 people at a Sufi shrine on Friday,” it adds.
Referring to the February 20 suicide bombings that occurred after jihadists stormed a court complex in KP, the Agence France-Presse (AFP) news agency reports:
One bomber was briefly on the loose inside the busy complex in the Tangi area of 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 Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, according to police.
JuA, an offshoot of the Pakistani Taliban, known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claimed responsibility for the suicide bombings.
The Independent reports:
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, an affiliate of the Pakistani Taliban, has also launched numerous bombings and attacks after announcing the start of a new campaign of violence against the government, security forces, the judiciary and secular political parties.
For one, the U.S. has officially designated TTP a foreign terrorist organization, but not the Afghan Taliban, despite the fact that both Sunni terrorist organizations oppose the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan, and both carry out cross-border attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Moreover, TTP and the Afghan Taliban maintain a close relationship with al-Qaeda and the Haqqani Network.
While TTP is focused on overthrowing the Pakistani government and establishing an Islamic caliphate in the country, the Afghan Taliban has a similar goal in Afghanistan.
However, TTP supports operations outside the Afghanistan-Pakistan region, while the Afghan Taliban focuses on Afghanistan.
U.S. authorities have linked the jihadist group to the attempted car bombing in Times Square, New York, back in 2010.
Voice of America (VOA) recently published an article titled, “Why Isn’t Afghan Taliban on US List of Foreign Terror Groups?”
In the report, VOA notes:
To the U.S., the Afghan Taliban is largely an insurgency with control over vast swaths of territory and aspirations to govern the country, while its Pakistani offspring is considered nothing but a terrorist organization. But the real reason the Afghan Taliban is not on the list has more to do with political considerations than whether or not it meets the statutory criteria for a terrorist designation, experts say.
In the case of the Taliban, the deterring factor has long been a concern that applying the terror label to the group would restrict U.S. and Afghan government diplomatic contacts with the Taliban, making peace talks more difficult.
However, peace efforts with the Afghan Taliban have failed. The terrorist group believes it has no reason to negotiate because it is winning.