20 soldiers killed in suicide attack in NW Pakistan
A suicide bomber Thursday attacked troops at a highly secured parade ground in a northwestern Pakistani city and killed at least 20 soldiers, the army said.
An army statement said that another 20 soldiers were also injured in the attack in Mardan, a main city some 60 kilometers northeast of Peshawar, the provincial capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Xinhua reported.
The injured were transferred to a military hospital in Mardan and several critical injured were shifted to Peshawar.
Police sources said that the bomber blew himself up at the Punjab Regiment Center, a unit of Pakistan army, around 8:15 a.m. local time when the soldiers were busy in a routine training.
The banned Pakistani Taliban outfit, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan, has claimed the responsibility for the suicide attack, sources said. Taliban militants have launched at least two attacks on the military center in the past.
Security sources said that the bomber, a teenager wearing school uniform, walked to the parade ground and blew himself up near the soldiers.
The army sealed the road and only allowed ambulances to transfer the injured. The army conducted the rescue and relief operation.
The police are investigating as to how the bomber succeeded to sneak into the highly secured training area with boundary walls and guarded round the clock by the soldiers.
Sources said that the bomber may have taken advantage of the relaxed security for a school in the cantonment area and resembling as student of the school.
Witnesses said private and military ambulances were seen heading to the blast site and emergency was declared in the city's military hospital. Armed soldiers were shown guarding main gates of the center.
Residents said the explosion was huge and people in most parts of the city heard its bang. Markets near the army center were also closed after the suicide attack.
Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani has condemned the terrorist attack, reiterating that such cowardly attacks cannot affect moral of the security agencies and resolve of the nation to eradicate terrorism, a statement from the PM office said.
While commiserating with the bereaved families, the prime minister directed the concerned quarters to provide best medical care to the injured.