Pakistan blast at court leaves several dead in Mardan

Pakistani local residents inspect the site of a suicide bomb attack at a district court in Mardan on September 2, 2016 Image copyright AFP
Image caption The suicide bomber tried to reach the court's bar room, where several lawyers had gathered

A suicide bomber has attacked a court in the northern Pakistani city of Mardan, killing at least 12 people and injuring more than 50, officials say.

The attacker threw a hand grenade before running into the court area and detonating a bomb, police told the BBC.

Also on Friday, four suicide bombers targeted a Christian neighbourhood near Peshawar before being shot dead.

Both attacks took place in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, and were claimed by Taliban faction Jamaat-ul-Ahrar.

Militants have targeted lawyers in the past, including a bomb attack in Quetta last month that killed 18 lawyers. That attack was also claimed by Jamaat-ul-Ahrar.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Nearly 30 people were injured in the court attack
Image copyright EPA
Image caption A second attack targeted a Christian district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa

Ijaz Khan, deputy inspector general of police for Mardan district, told reporters three lawyers and two police officers were among the dead at the courthouse.

The suicide bomber attempted to reach the court's bar room, where several lawyers had congregated - but was shot by police before he could enter, Mr Khan said.

The president of the Mardan Bar Association, Amir Hussain, told reporters he was in a neighbouring room when the blast happened.

"There was dust everywhere, and people were crying [out] loud with pain," he said.

Lawyers have come under attack because they are "an important part of democracy, and these terrorists are opposed to democracy", he added in quotes carried by the AFP agency.

Who are the Jamaat-ul-Ahrar?

•A faction of the Pakistani Taliban that operates independently in the Mohmand tribal region and surrounding areas.

•Name translates as The Party of Freedom Fighters.

•Carried out several attacks in Pakistan's north-west, including the Peshawar Valley region.

•Major attacks include a suicide bombing that killed more than 70 people at a park during Easter celebrations.

•Soldiers, lawyers and religious minorities are among those targeted.

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