Dera Ismail Khan    -   At least nine people, including six police personnel, were martyred and around 30 others injured in two connected terror strikes on Sunday near Dera Ismail Khan city of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

The first attack was carried out at a roadside checkpoint near Kotla Syedan village in the outskirts of the town wherein four bike-riding militants opened fire on two on-duty policemen, Constable Jahangir and Constable Inam, killing them on the spot.

When the bodies of the slain policemen were brought to the district hospital, a burqa-clad woman suicide bomber, already sitting there, targeted the people who gathered around the ambulance outside the trauma centre of the hospital.

Seven people, four of them policemen and three civilians, were martyred and around 30 injured in this subsequent suicide blast. The seriously injured people were shifted to the Combine Military Hospital.

Banned militant outfit Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the “revenge” attacks.

“The woman bomber, aged around 28 years, came on foot and blew herself up,” said district police chief Saleem Riaz. He said that 7 to 8kg explosive material was used in the bomb.

The officer feared rise in the death toll as a number of the wounded were in critical condition. He said that the policemen deputed at the entry of the hospital carry out searching and frisking of the visiting men but females are exempted from body search due to the tradition and customs of the area.

Officials said the suicide bombing by a female extremist was first ever and an unexpected incident in the region.

TTP Spokesperson Muhammad Khurasani in a statement claimed responsibility for the attacks, saying these were carried out as retribution for the killing of two Taliban commanders by counter terrorism police around a month ago. But he denied the suicide bomber was a woman.

But another policeman insisted the suicide bomber was a woman. He said the mutilated head of the bomber was recovered and sent along with pieces of her hairs and feet for forensic examination.

Officials at the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) said five dead bodies and at least 30 injured people have been brought to the medical facility.

 Condemnations

Prime Minister Imran Khan, who is on an official visit to the US, strongly condemned the terrorist attacks, and expressed grief over loss of lives.

According to a press release issued by PM office, the premier prayed for the eternal peace of departed souls and bereaved families to bear the loss with equanimity.

KP Chief Minister Mehmood Khan and leaders of different political parties also strongly condemned the tragic attacks.

KP Police Inspector General Dr Naeem Khan said that those behind the heinous attack would be brought to justice.

The northwestern Dera Ismail Khan town is considered a gateway to North Waziristan and South Waziristan districts that were once the hotbed of Taliban and other militants.

The town itself has seen a number of suicide attacks over the past decade and several intelligence based operations have been conducted here to weed out the terrorists from the area, which is also an important hub in the $60 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor.