At least two people were killed and 18 others injured, including three female judges, after a suicide bomber on Wednesday targeted a vehicle transporting senior members of the judiciary in Peshawar.
“A suicide bomber rammed his motorcycle into the judges’ vehicle near the Peshawar Development Authority office,” said senior police official Sajjad Khan. “Asif Jadoon, one of the judges in the vehicle, was injured along with three women judges. All four have been shifted to Hayatabad Medical Complex for treatment,” he added.
Shaukat Yousafzai, a lawmaker of the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf political party, which rules in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, told media: “The suicide bomber’s legs have been recovered. Police have also recovered a head, but are not yet sure if it belongs to the bomber or one of his victims.” He added: “The driver transporting the judges was killed in the explosion.”
While no group has officially claimed responsibility for the bombing, Peshawar Police chief Tahir Khan accused militants based in Afghanistan for the latest bout of violence. “Militants who fled to Afghanistan after Operation Zarb-e-Azb are trying to show their strength,” he said. “We are trying our best, in collaboration with the military, to secure this area,” he added.
Zarb-e-Azb, launched in 2014, led to marked improvement in security across Pakistan, but homegrown groups such as the Pakistani Taliban have shown they are still capable of carrying out assaults.
Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, a splinter faction of the Pakistani Taliban that claimed an attack targeting police in Lahore on Feb. 13, is reportedly based in Afghanistan. The group warned in a statement to media after the bombing that it was “just the start,” and it would stage similar attacks across the country in the coming days.
A senior official of Pakistan’s Foreign Office, speaking on condition of anonymity as he is not authorized to speak to media, told Newsweek a formal protest has been registered with Kabul’s ambassador following the recent rise in extremist attacks across the country. “Pakistan’s Foreign Office summoned Afghanistan’s deputy ambassador to Pakistan, Abdul Nasir, and registered its protest at the latest bombings,” he said. “Over five attacks have occurred in the past four days and all have been claimed by Jamaat-ul-Ahrar, which is operating from Afghanistan,” he added.