Suicide Bomber Attacks Police Station In Northwest Pakistan, Killing 23 Officers And Wounding 32

(AP) — A suicide bomber detonated his explosive-laden vehicle at a police station’s main gate in northwest Pakistan early Tuesday, killing at least 23 troops and wounding 32 others, and causing a part of the building to collapse upon impact, the military and officials said.

The suicide attack — one of the deadliest attacks since January — led to “multiple causalities,” Pakistan’s army said in a statement. It added that six militants also opened fire and a shootout ensued for hours between them and security forces before “the terrorists” were gunned down. Local police officials also confirmed all six attackers were dead.

Separately, the statement said that “troops killed 27 insurgents” in multiple operations in the same region.

The death toll from Tuesday’s attack was likely to rise as some of the officers were in critical condition, authorities said. The bodies of the 23 security forces killed were transferred to a hospital, Mohammad Adnan, a senior police official told reporters.

The attack targeted the Daraban police station in Dera Ismail Khan, a city in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan, local police officer Kamal said. The province is a former stronghold of the militant Pakistani Taliban group, also known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP.

The newly formed militant group Tehreek-e-Jihad Pakistan, or TJP — believed to be an offshoot of the TTP — claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement, saying it targeted the officers who were at the police station. The statement also claimed that 20 officers were killed. However, this couldn’t be independently verified.

A larger number of security forces from across the country have had a constant presence lately at the Daraban police station where they were conducting intelligence-based operations against militants in the area with help from local police, said Khan

Pakistan’s President Arif Alvi denounced the attack and conveyed his condolences to the families of those who were “martyred”. In a statement, he said “their sacrifices would not go to waste” and that such attacks cannot weaken the resolve of security forces.

Pakistan’s caretaker Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti denounced the onslaught in a statement, calling it an act of “terrorism.”

Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has witnessed a rise in violence with several deadly incursions by militants this year. In January, at least 101 people were killed, mostly police officers, when a suicide bomber disguised as a policeman attacked a mosque in the northwestern city of Peshawar.

The Pakistani Taliban have stepped up attacks on security forces since 2022. Authorities say the insurgents have become emboldened while living openly in Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover of that country in 2021.

The TTP, though a separate group, is closely allied with the Afghan Taliban.

Dera Ismail Khan is located near South Waziristan, a former sanctuary for militants. Pakistan’s army carried out multiple operations against militants there after some attacked an army-run school, killing more than 150 people, mostly school children, in 2014.