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Seven ppl killed in attacked on sessions court in Charsadda

22 February, 2017

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PESHAWAR: At least seven people, including a lawyer and an eight-year-old boy, were killed and as many as 25 others were injured when three terrorists wearing suicide vests attacked the sessions court in Tangi tehsil of Charsadda on Tuesday.

According to local sources, the attack begun at around 11:40am when the terrorists opened indiscriminate fire using automatic weapons and hurled grenades at the security officials in an attempt to enter the court. According to a source, the gunfire was immediately followed by explosions of hand grenades, one of which exploded at the entrance, while another went off near the bar room where a number of lawyers were reportedly present at that time.

However, timely action by policemen stationed at the sessions court prevented the attackers from entering the premises, as they gunned down two attackers and the third one blew himself up after failing to enter the building.

Charsadda District Police Officer (DPO) Sohail Khalid informed the media that all the three attackers had been killed in retaliatory fire. "The policemen on duty at the court fought bravely, as they were able to kill the attackers outside the entrance, thus preventing large-scale casualties. None of the attackers was able to enter the gates," he said. "Bomb disposal experts told us that each bomber was wearing seven to eight kilogrammes of explosives."

Like many government buildings and offices of law enforcement agencies, the security at sessions court in Tangi had also been beefed up after threats of terrorist attacks in the wake of military action against Afghanistan-based Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA)

Charsadda Assistant Commissioner Inayatullah Khan told the media that the injured included six policemen who confronted the terrorists in a gunbattle that lasted for at least 14 minutes.

A witness, Sarfaraz Khan, who got injured after being hit by shrapnel, informed reporers that he had gone to the court for his hearing when the attack took place. "I heard gunshots and explosions before I was hit by a shrapnel, and fell down on the ground. I only remember that a rickshaw driver lifted me and brought me to the hospital," he said at the district hospital.

Another man who witnessed the attack, Muhammad Hussain, said he was about to enter the complex when he heard the blast.

When I looked up I saw three armed men, hurling grenades and opening fire," said the 35-year-old civil servant, adding he sought shelter in a nearby police barracks from where he heard the gunfight.

A number of injured were first rushed to the Tehsil Headquarters Hospital Tangi, but they had to be shifted to Charsadda after being provided first aid, as the hospital lacked specialised facilities for treating the injured persons.

Soon after the news of the attack, ambulances were dispatched from Peshawar and Mardan to the spot. At least 12 injured persons were shifted to the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar.

Security forces arrived at the scene soon after the attack and cordoned off the area. One suspicious person was taken in to custody during a search operation in the area.

Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa lauded the security forces' response to the attack and appreciated the bravery of the on-duty policemen who saved many lives.

Meanwhile, in a statement, banned terrorist outfit Jamaat-ul-Ahrar claimed responsibility for the attack and said it was a continuation of Operation Ghazi, which they had initiated against Pakistan. The group released details of two of the attackers - Abdul Basit of Mohmand Agency and Khairullah of Kunduz, Afghanistan.

Tangi Tehsil borders with Prang Ghar area of Mohmand Agency. At least 16 people were killed on March 6, 2016 when the same terrorist group attacked the sessions court in Shabqadar area of the agency to "avenge" the execution of Mumtaz Qadri, the security guard who assassinated the then Punjab governor Salmaan Taseer in January 2011.

Today's attack in Tangi took place only days after a new wave of terrorist activism that has left more than 100 persons dead in at least six attacks in all four provinces and the Federally Administered Tribal Areas last week.

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