Gul Zareen, a police official, said the suicide attacks on police stations started within minutes of each other in the district of Mansehra.

Khalil Khan, the Mansehra police chief, was killed when an attacker blew himself up inside the town's police station, Zareen said.

In the second attack, a pair of attackers stormed a station at least 25km away in the town of Balakot, triggering a shootout that left one of the attackers dead.

Zareen said the slain attacker was wearing a suicide jacket and the second attacker fled toward nearby offices.

Officers were trying to track him down, he said.