Suicide bombing at police station claims 23 lives

DERA ISMAIL KHAN, PAKISTAN – A suicide bomber in an explosive-rigged vehicle struck a police station in northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday, causing a devastating blast that claimed the lives of at least 23 officers and injured 32 others. The assault, which occurred in the early morning hours, caused a section of the building in Dera Ismail Khan, a city in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan, to collapse.

Following the initial blast, several assailants opened fire on the station, sparking a prolonged shootout with security personnel. The exchange of gunfire lasted several hours, ending with the elimination of three attackers, according to police officer Kamal Khan.

The tragic incident’s death toll is feared to rise, as several injured officers are in critical condition. In the aftermath of the attack, law enforcement initiated a manhunt in the surrounding areas to apprehend the fleeing militants.

The Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, where the attack took place, was once a stronghold of the militant Pakistani Taliban group, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP). The responsibility for the attack was claimed by Tehreek-e-Jihad Pakistan (TJP), a newly formed militant group believed to be an offshoot of TTP. They stated that the police officers at the station were their intended targets.

In recent times, security forces from across Pakistan have maintained a steady presence at the Daraban police station, conducting intelligence-driven operations against militants in the area with local police assistance.

Pakistan’s interim Interior Minister Sarfraz Bugti condemned the attack, offering his condolences to the victims’ families and labeling the incident an act of “terrorism.” The violence in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa has been escalating, with several deadly attacks recorded this year. This includes a January attack where a suicide bomber, disguised as a police officer, killed at least 101 people, mostly police officers, at a mosque in Peshawar.

The Pakistani Taliban has been stepping up attacks on security forces since last year, with authorities noting that the militants have grown more audacious while residing openly in Afghanistan following the Taliban’s takeover in 2021. The TTP, although a separate group, maintains close ties with the Afghan Taliban.