One police officer and two suspected militants, including a woman of the dreaded Pakistani Taliban outfit, were killed in a suicide attack here on Friday, prompting authorities in Pakistan to issue a "red alert" across the federal capital.
The incident took place in Sector I-10/4 in Islamabad's upscale residential area, located barely 15km away from the garrison city of Rawalpindi, where Pakistan's powerful military establishment is located.
"The bomber, accompanied by a female and driving an explosive-laden vehicle was stopped by police for checking," Deputy Inspector General of Police Sohail Zafar Chattha told the media.
“When the police stopped the vehicle, the couple came out. The long-haired man, while being checked by the officers went inside the vehicle and detonated himself,” he said.
The female militant was also died in the blast, police said.
Television footage showed a burning vehicle as police officers cordoned off the area after the explosion.
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Mohammad Khalid Khurasani, the TTP spokesman said in a statement its militants carried out the suicide attack to avenge the killing of senior leader Abdul Wali, who was killed in a roadside bombing in August in Afghanistan's Paktika province.
Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said that the vehicle was "loaded with explosives" aimed at striking at high-value targets in Islamabad.
Elaborating on the casualties, the minister said one police officer was killed and six others injured.
Following the blast, Islamabad police issued orders for a “security red alert” across the city.
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has condemned the incident and sought a report from security officials.
“Due to the timely action of the law enforcement agencies, the nefarious plan of terrorists to shed the blood of innocent people has been foiled,” Prime Minister Sharif said in a statement.
The TTP has stepped up attacks on security forces since November, when they ended a monthslong cease-fire with the Pakistan government.
The lastest attack in Pakistan's federal capital comes days after an arrested TTP militant, who was being interrogated at the Counter-Terrorism Department (CTD) police station inside the Bannu Cantonment, snatched an AK-47 from the police and opened fire.
He then freed other wanted militants being held at the building and together they took control of the compound.
The TTP is believed to be close to al-Qaeda, has been blamed for several deadly attacks across Pakistan, including an attack on army headquarters in 2009, assaults on military bases, and the 2008 bombing of the Marriott Hotel in Islamabad.
In 2014, the Pakistani Taliban stormed the Army Public School (APS) in the northwestern city of Peshawar, killing at least 150 people, including 131 students.
The attack sent shockwaves across the world and was widely condemned.
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