ISLAMABAD: At least six policemen and three civilians were killed and more than 30 injured in twin attacks in the northwestern Pakistani town of Dera Ismail Khan on Sunday. 

According to police, gunmen on two motorcycles first attacked a police check post in a residential area of Dera Ismail Khan, a district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province, killing two policemen. The attackers, however, fled the scene, police said. 

Following the gun attack, a female suicide bomber detonated her explosives at the government hospital where bodies of the policemen had been shifted. “In addition to those killed in the firing, four policemen and three civilians were killed in the hospital explosion,” district police chief Saleem Riaz said. He said eight policemen were among the 30 people who were wounded at the hospital blast. “Many of the wounded are in critical condition,” Riaz added. 

Forensics expert Inayatullah said the attacker was female. “She detonated seven kilograms of explosives packed with nails and ball-bearings,” he said. 

The Tehreek e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a conglomerate of several Pakistani militant outfits, claimed responsibility in an emailed statement, saying the attack was carried out in retaliation for the killing of their two commanders by Pakistan’s Counter Terrorism Department (CTD) in Dera Ismail Khan on June 23. 

The statement, issued by the group’s spokesperson, Muhammed Khurrasani, also said the suicide bomber was a man and named him as Abu Obaida Ghazi, in contradiction to the initial police reports that it was a female bomber. 

Pakistan has been battling the TTP and its allies since 2007. A series of military operations has weakened the group, displacing it from its former headquarters in Pakistan’s northwestern tribal areas, which Dera Ismail Khan, an important destination in the $60 billion China Pakistan Economic Corridor, borders.