- Police chased their car and killed an officer, authorities said.
- The capital is already on high alert over the threat of a high-profile attack, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said.
- The car exploded near police headquarters on the main road leading to a government sector.
Pakistani militants believed to be about to stage a suicide bombing attack in Islamabad’s government district blew themselves up on Friday when police chased their car, killing an officer, authorities said.
The Interior Ministry said the vehicle headed for a high-value target in the capital without giving details, while Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said timely police intervention prevented a “bloodbath”.
He also honored the police officer killed in the attack.
“Undoubtedly, the sacrifices made by our police officers to the security of the nation must not be forgotten,” Sharif wrote on Twitter.
The car exploded near police headquarters on the main road leading to a government district where Parliament and the offices of senior officials are located.
The capital is already on high alert over the threat of a high-profile attack, Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said. “Had the car reached its destination, it would have caused heavy casualties,” he told Geo News TV.
Islamabad Police Chief Sohail Zafar said police gave chase after the car failed to stop at a checkpoint.
“As they were chasing it, the people in the car blew it up,” he said, adding that four police officers and two civilians were injured, he said.
Mr. Zafar initially said that a man and a woman were in the car. A police spokesman later said the woman’s presence could not be verified.
Pakistani Taliban claim suicide bombing
The Pakistani Taliban claimed the car bombing was revenge for the killing of one of their leaders.
“We accept responsibility for the suicide attack on the enemy of Islam,” read a statement from militants known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an umbrella organization of Islamist and sectarian groups.
The bombing came two days after a Pakistani military operation killed 25 TTP fighters following a standoff at a counter-terrorism facility.
TTP fighters have waged a campaign of bombings and suicide bombings to rule the country under a strict pattern of Islamic law for over a decade.
They have stepped up attacks since last month and ended a ceasefire brokered by the Afghan Taliban in May.
The Pakistani military has periodically launched offensives in regions along the Afghan border that have served as safe havens for Islamist militants.