Police officers killed in explosions at Pakistani counter-terror office
A couple of explosions at a counter-terrorism office in the Swat Valley in north-west Pakistan has killed at least 17 people, with most of the victims counted as police officers. Four of the dead are civilians. Buildings have collapsed and over 50 people have sustained injuries.
A number of people got buried under the rubble. The injured ones were rushed to Saidu Sharif Teaching Hospital. While Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif initially called the incident a “suicide attack”, he later tweeted “The nature of the blast is being investigated”.
The collapse also triggered a power outage in the area. The Monday explosion at the Kabal police station in Pakistan’s restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, which neighbours Afghanistan, is unlikely to be an act of terror, police said.
An electrical fault igniting ammunition in the centre has been blamed. Reuters News Agency quoted Sohail Khalid, regional chief of the counter-terrorism department, as saying there might have been some blast in a “store where we had a huge quantity of weapons” due to carelessness.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the incident. While in recent months, the Pakistani Taliban has carried out several attacks targeting security forces after ending a ceasefire with the government, it has not claimed involvement in the latest blast.
Pakistani counter-terrorist forces are known to maintain a strong presence in the Swat Valley, which was under the control of Islamist militants until they were forced out in 2009. Nobel Laureate Malala Yousafzai was shot and wounded in the valley by Taliban militants in 2012.