Suicide attackers armed with guns and grenades on Friday stormed a police station in Peshawar, killing at least four policemen, including two officers, and injuring eight others, a day after a car bomb strike left 13 people dead in the northwest Pakistani city.
The terrorists numbering three lobbed grenades and fired indiscriminately as they forced their way into 'Kotwali' police station, located in a congested neighbourhood in the heart of Peshawar, early Friday morning.
The attackers exchanged fire with policemen inside the building for almost 40 minutes. Peshawar police chief Imtiaz Altaf said three policemen, including a sub-inspector, were killed instantly.
An assistant sub-inspector succumbed to his injuries in hospital, other officials said.
Eight policemen were injured and officials at Lady Reading Hospital described the condition of two of them as critical.
Altaf said the terrorists hurled grenades at policemen guarding the gates of the police station. The policemen promptly responded and surrounded the attackers, who were left with "no other option but to explode themselves," he said.
The brazen attack on the police station came a day after a car bombing at a bus terminal in Peshawar killed 13 people and injured nearly 40 others.
The Abdullah Azam militant group claimed responsibility for Friday's strike and warned it would carry out more attacks to avenge US drone strikes in Pakistan's tribal belt.
Officials said the Kotwali police station was attacked because it houses a large number of security personnel.
The police station is one of the largest in Peshawar and over 300 policemen were present in the multi-storey building at the time of the attack.
Besides housing recruits, the building has an office of the Special Branch and residential quarters are attached to it.
Two of the attackers appeared to be brothers as they had similar facial features, Mian Iftikhar Hussian, Information Minister of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province, told reporters in Peshawar.
The heads and body parts of the attackers were found and sent for forensic tests.Footage on television showed the walls of the police station were blackened by explosions. The walls were pitted by shrapnel and bullets.
Debris lay strewn in rooms of the building where the attackers blew themselves up. Local residents said they had heard three small blasts followed by a huge explosion and gunfire.
A girls' school is located near the police station and students could not get out of the building because of fear, they said.Police chief Altaf said the attack was repulsed due to security measures adopted by the police and heavy losses were avoided.
The hideouts of terrorists had been targeted in recent operations by security forces and the rebels were now attacking security personnel in retaliation, he said.
Shortly after the attack, a suspected militant was injured when an improvised explosive device went off while he was trying to plant it by the roadside in Gulshan Colony area of Peshawar.
The man's accomplice managed to escape but he was arrested and taken to hospital, police said. Several cars were damaged by the blast.