Security forces killed three suicide attackers who attempted to wreak havoc at a local court in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa's Charsadda district, officials said Tuesday.
DSP Charsadda Fayaz Khan said five civilians have been killed in the attack, which the proscribed Jamaat-ul-Ahraar (JuA) claimed.
Director General Inter-Services Public Relations, Major General Asif Ghafoor tweeted, "Chief of Army Staff lauds security forces' response to Charsada Blast. First tier Police response has saved many lives. Shares grief on loss of lives."
Provincial government sources said one lawyer was among those killed, while 15 others were injured.
The three suicide bombers approached the court in the guise of petitioners, suggested an initial assessment report provided by local police to the provincial Counter Terrorism Department.
The report revealed that the first attacker had hurled a hand grenade when he was intercepted by security personnel.
The bomber was killed as security personnel opened fire at the gate of the compound, whereas the second was killed as he entered the court. The third bomber was killed when he detonated his explosives.
In total, the three attackers hurled six grenades. All three bombers were carrying 9mm pistols.
Four judges and around 40 lawyers were present in the premises of the court when bombers targeted the compound.
Eyewitnesses said the remains of the bombers were lying on the roadside along with their explosives and ammunition.
Town resident Mohammad Shahbaz told Reuters he was inside the judicial complex when the suicide bombers stormed it.
“I escaped towards the canteen and climbed the wall to save my life. But there were many people dead and injured,” he said.
Up to 10 ambulances were dispatched to Charsadda from Peshawar, where the Lady Reading Hospital had been put on high alert.
Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) Chairman Imran Khan, whose party rules in KP, lauded the quick action taken by the police, which averted a higher death toll.
The attack came amid heightened security across KP and the country after a recent wave of terror.
Charsadda is at a nearly 40-minute drive from KP’s provincial capital Peshawar, and has been a target of terror attacks for nearly a decade.
A suicide bomber had struck a local court in Charsadda's Shabqadar area last year in March, killing 17 people. That attack too was claimed by Jamaat-ul-Ahraar.
In January 2016, militants had attacked the Bacha Khan University in Charsadda and shot dead 21 people.
Also read: Fear and panic in Peshawar amid high alert
Resurgence in terror attacks
Pakistan is experiencing a fresh resurgence in terror attacks.
In the last 10 days, over 100 people have killed in terror attacks in Sindh, Balochistan, KP, Fata and Punjab.
On Feb 13, a suicide blast on Lahore's Mall road saw 13 people dead and 85 injured. The banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility.
In another incident on Feb 13, two Bomb Disposal Squad personnel were killed in Quetta while trying to defuse a roadside bomb at Sariab road.
On Feb 15, five people lost their lives in a suicide blast outside a government office in Mohmand Agency. JuA had claimed the responsibility for the attack.
In a separate suicide attack on Feb 15, one person died as a suicide attacker targeted a judges' vehicle in Peshawar. TTP claimed the attack.
On Feb 16, in what is said to be the worst attack in the recent surge of terrorism, a suicide attack on the Lal Shahbaz Qalandar Shrine in Sehwan saw over 85 people dead while more than 200 were injured. The responsibility for the attack was claimed by the militant Islamic State (IS) group.
The same day, on Feb 16, an IED blast in Awaran, Balochistan left three security officials dead.