Pakistani authorities said Tuesday tha twin blasts that struck a counterterrorism facility in the country’s northwest and killed 16 people were caused by electrical shorts and not a militant attack, as initially suggested.
The short circuits happened Monday at a munitions warehouse within the facility in Swat, a district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan. Among those killed were nine officers, two civilians and five recently detained militants who were being held there for investigation.
Along with those killed, more than 50 people, mostly police officers, were injured when the shorts triggered two explosions, seconds apart, according to Akhtar Hayat, the provincial police chief.
Initially, police said it could be an act of terrorism but an investigation later concluded that electrical short circuits caused the explosions, according to a police statement released Tuesday. Nasir Mahmood Satti, a district police chief, also confirmed there was no attack from the outside.
Police and government officials attended a collective funeral ceremony Tuesday for the officers killed in the blasts.
Associated Press images from the scene showed destroyed cars and downed trees at the facility, which also houses a police station and the headquarters of a reserve police force.
On Tuesday, military spokesman Ahmad Sharif said in a televised news briefing that troops were still helping local authorities in Swat to defuse unexploded ordnance at the counterterrorism police compound.
Sharif also said in the briefing that since January, 293 people had been killed in militant attacks in the country. He said security forces killed 1,525 militants in intelligence-based operations during the same period.
“There are no no-go areas in Pakistan today due to the sacrifices of the public and the army,” he said. He said military operations against militants will continue until the last insurgent is eliminated.
His comments came amid a surge in militant attacks across the country, including in Swat, which was once the stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban. The military carried out a massive operation there in 2007 and later claimed to have routed the militants and restored normalcy. However, attacks have persisted.
Separately, the Pakistani Taliban — also known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan — said their fighters attacked a security checkpoint on the outskirts of Peshawar, the provincial capital, on Monday night. There was no confirmation of any attack from the authorities.
The Pakistani Taliban are separate but allied with the Afghan Taliban, who seized power in neighboring Afghanistan in August 2021. The takeover has emboldened the TTP, which stepped up attacks in recent months.