Peshawar (AP) — Two explosions Monday at a counterterrorism police facility in northwest Pakistan killed at least 12 people and wounded at least 50, police said.
Senior police officer Ataullah Khan said an initial blast at the facility in the Swat Valley district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province was followed by a larger, more intense one.
Associated Press images from the blast scene showed destroyed cars and downed trees, and at a local hospital bloodied victims being carried inside on stretchers.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but the Pakistani Taliban have claimed similar attacks since ending a cease-fire with the government last year.
The explosions came hours after police said a counterterror operation in the province’s Lakki Marwat district took place in which three militants and one police officer were killed. It was not immediately clear if the attacks were related.
Khan said part of the counterterrorism police building collapsed and rescue workers retrieved the bodies of dead and wounded. He said the death toll could increase.
The police complex also houses the Kabal city police station and the headquarters of a reserve police force but the main damage was done at the counterterrorism department building, Khan said.
The picturesque Swat Valley was once the stronghold of Islamic militants who imposed strict Sharia, or Islamic, rule in the region. The army carried out a massive operation there in 2007 that flushed out the militants and restored normalcy.
The Pakistani Taliban, formally known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, is a separate group from Afghan Taliban but linked to them.
The TTP has been emboldened since the Afghan Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in 2021 when U.S. and NATO troops were leaving the country after 20 years of war. Many of its leaders and fighters have found sanctuaries in Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover there.