A Taliban suicide bomber has blown himself up outside a local court compound in northwestern Pakistan, killing at least 13 people and wounding at least 36 more.
Authorities say police personnel, women and children were among those killed and wounded in the attack Monday in the town of Shabqadar.
A local security official, Additional Assistant Commissioner Tariq Hassan, told reporters that police guards identified and intercepted the bomber, but when they tried to grab him he detonated the bomb.
"One of the police officials grabbed him and sustained serious injury from the fire shots of the suicide bomber but the policeman continued scuffling with him for up to 10 yards before becoming breathless. In the struggle, the suicide bomber was left fully confused and haggard to locate his target before blowing himself up," said Hassan.
The massive explosion, witnesses say, caused widespread damage and destroyed several vehicles at the judicial complex.
A spokesman for the militant group Jamatul Ahrar, a member of the Pakistani Taliban waging insurgency against the state, claimed responsibility for the bombing.
WATCH: VOA video footage from scene of blast
In a statement sent to reporters, the group said the attack was meant to avenge the hanging of Mumtaz Qadri, a police bodyguard executed for killing the governor of Pakistan’s most populous province of Punjab over his call to reform the blasphemy law.
The group has vowed to carry out more attacks against the Pakistani judiciary and those linked to it.
Islamist parties in Pakistan have been agitating against the February 29 execution and have held country-wide protests to condemn the country’s judiciary as un-Islamic.
Qadri was part of the detail protecting governor Salman Taseer when he shot and killed him in 2011 in a busy market in the capital, Islamabad.
Pakistan’s blasphemy law mandates the death penalty for insulting Islam or the Prophet Mohammad.
The Pakistani Taliban has been waging a violent campaign to try to dislodge what it says is an un-Islamic military and governance system in the country. The extremist group has killed thousands of Pakistanis in suicide bombings and other terrorist attacks in the decade long effort.
Military-led security operations have destroyed major hideouts and strongholds particularly in tribal areas near the Afghan border, preventing the militants from carrying out major attacks in recent years.