PESHAWAR: Fifteen people, seven policemen among them, were killed and 25 others wounded in Bannu on Thursday evening when two suspected suicide bombs ripped through Police Lines.
District Police Officer Iqbal Marwat received serious injuries in the second attack and was stated to be in critical condition.
The Medical Superintendent of district headquarters hospital, Bannu, Dr Hafeezullah Khan, said that Mr Marwat and two other seriously wounded persons had been shifted to the Combined Military Hospital, Bannu.
He said four bodies kept in the hospital could not be identified.
Official sources said that even as the bodies and the wounded were being evacuated from the scene, the second bomber blew himself up, causing more casualties.
A senior officer told Dawn that roll call was in progress at the Police Lines when the first attacker detonated explosives strapped to his body. Mr Marwat rushed to the scene to oversee the rescue work when the second bomber struck, he added.
However, a source at the office of the Bannu Division Commissioner said that causes of the blasts had yet to be ascertained.
“It will be premature to say whether it was a suicide attack,” he said.
Police and security forces sealed the city adjoining North Waziristan tribal region. Bannu district has been under night-time curfew for the past few months.
The wounded were taken to the city’s district headquarters hospital.
There were scenes of panic in the hospital as doctors struggled to cope with the number of victims.
Another 25 people were brought in wounded, including two children, and four of the wounded are in a critical condition, he added.
“There were two blasts. The first one was near the gate. The second was a suicide attack. We have confirmed reports it was a suicide attack,” said Sardar Abbas, the city’s senior administrator.
Militants have carried out numerous attacks on security forces over the past several years. On Wednesday, a suicide bomber killed 12 security personnel and seven civilians in the Khyber tribal region near the Afghan border.
A group of militants attacked soldiers leading a rescue team to the site of a crashed military Cobra helicopter in the same district, killing a brigadier and wounding two other officers.
No group immediately claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attacks, which were carried out by attackers on foot, but suspicion is likely to fall on Taliban.
The suicide bombings came amid growing certainty that the militant group’s top commander, Hakimullah Mehsud, died from wounds sustained in a US missile strike in mid-January. Taliban have denied he is dead, but failed to offer proof that he is alive.