Two bombs killed at least 12 people and wounded 54 others outside a court complex in northwest Pakistan on Friday, a rescue official said, hours after militants killed two people in a Christian colony 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.
The bodies of policemen, lawyers and other civilians were recovered, said Haris Habib, chief rescue officer in the city of Mardan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
“First there was a small blast followed by a big blast,” Habib told Reuters.
A rescue official, Bilal Jalal, said at least 12 people were killed and another 54 wounded in the suicide attack at the court, among them lawyers, policemen and passers-by. He said some of the wounded in a critical condition.
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.
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,” Sharif said in a statement.
Jamaat-ur-Ahrar’s spokesman, Ehsanullah Ehsan, vowed to stage more attacks in a statement sent to Reuters.
“We appeal to civilians to remain away from law enforcement installations and these un-Islamic courts. We will target them more,” he said.
More than 20 people were killed in an attack in December on a government office in Mardan, which was also claimed by Jamaat-ur-Ahrar.
Earlier in the day, militants stormed the Christian neighborhood in the Khyber tribal region, triggering a shoot-out in which four attackers were killed and one Christian died, police and the military said. Three security officials and two civilian guards were wounded in the attack.
Army spokesman Lt. Gen. Asim Saleem Bajwa said in a statement that the attack was quickly repulsed and that security forces were searching for any accomplices.
The group, which briefly declared allegiance to ISIS in 2014 but recently said it was no longer affiliated with them, also staged the Easter Day attack on Christians in a park in Lahore that killed 72 people including at least 29 children.