PAKISTAN CONFLICT BOMB ATTACK.jpg
A general view shows the damage after a suicide bomb explosion at Mardan court, Pakistan, 02 September 2016.
Photograph: EPA/ARSHAD ARBAB

A Taliban suicide bomber killed 13 people at a courthouse in north-western Pakistan on Friday, in the second attack targeting the country's legal community in less than a month.

The bomber threw a hand grenade at guards before rushing into the district court compound in Mardan, a town in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, local police chief Faisal Shahzad said.

At least four lawyers and two police officers were killed. More than 50 people wounded were taken to hospital, rescue official Haris Habib said.

On August 8, a suicide bomber killed 77 people, mostly lawyers, in an attack in the south-western city of Quetta claimed by both the Islamic State group and Pakistani Taliban.

In a separate attack Friday, some 60 kilometres from the courthouse, gunmen wearing suicide vests stormed a Christian neighbourhood in the city of Peshawar.

A member of the Christian community and a security officer were killed when four terrorists sneaked into a Christian neighbourhood on the outskirt of the city, triggering an hours-long gun battle with military commandos.

The militants were cornered by security forces and all of them blew themselves up there, an army statement said.  

At least five people, including two security officials, were wounded, police officer Gul Wahab told dpa. A prompt response by security forces was credited with preventing a high number of casualties.

Jamaat ul Ahrar, a breakaway faction of Pakistani Taliban based in Afghanistan, claimed responsibility for both attacks.

Extremist Taliban routinely attack members of the minority communities in Pakistan. In 2013, Taliban suicide bombers attacked a church in Peshawar, killing nearly 100 people in what is Pakistan's deadliest attack on religious minorities to date.

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