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The New Arab

Pakistan continues to bleed as three bombers attack court

Pakistan has been hit by a wave of attacks since last week [Getty]

Date of publication: 21 February, 2017

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Pakistan has been the target of a number of attacks by both the Taliban and the Islamic State group as hundreds have been killed and wounded since last week.

Taliban suicide bombers attacked a court complex in northern Pakistan on Tuesday, killing at least seven people, the latest in a series of assaults which have raised fears that militants are regrouping.

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, about 30 kilometres from the provincial capital of Peshawar.

The attack was claimed by the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar (JuA) faction of the Pakistani Taliban, which carried out a series of apparently coordinated assaults last week including a powerful bomb blast in Lahore which killed 14 people.

Earlier this month the group vowed a fresh offensive on targets in Pakistan including the judiciary.

It was not immediately clear how many people were inside at the time of the attack, but hundreds of people including lawyers, judges and citizens normally attend such district court complexes every day.

Lawyers and the judiciary are frequent targets in Pakistan. Among last week's assaults was a bomb blast targeting a van carrying judges in Peshawar, which killed their driver.

Last August JuA along with the Islamic State group claimed a suicide bombing in Quetta that killed 73 people, including many of the southwestern city's legal community.

Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's office condemned the latest assault and the loss of life.

"We are a steadfast nation and will not be deterred by such attacks. Our government will continue to fight against terrorist elements and we will succeed," a statement said.

Police and troops had been on high alert in Pakistan after last week's wave of attacks, which killed more than 100 people.

Most, including the Lahore bomb, were claimed by JuA, a faction of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP, or Pakistani Taliban) group.

But the Islamic State group claimed the deadliest of last week's assaults, a suicide bomb at a Sufi shrine in Sindh province on Thursday which killed 90 people and wounded hundreds.

The emergence of IS and a TTP resurgence would be a major blow to Pakistan, which had enjoyed a dramatic improvement in security over the past two years after a military-led crackdown begun in 2014.

Analysts said there were "visible signs" militants were regrouping after last week's attacks.

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