Woman suicide bomber kills 42 in Pakistan

Over 70 people injured as attacker targets World Food Programme

Woman suicide bomber kills 42 in Pakistan

 “The bomber was a woman who detonated her suicide vest when she was stopped by security personnel for a search,” Bajaur tribal agency’s tehsildar Sohail Khan said.
There have been no instances of women being involved in the scores of suicide bombings witnessed across Pakistan over the past three years. No group claimed responsibility for the attack.

Officials said 42 people were killed and the death toll could rise. Over 70 people were also injured and those in a serious condition were airlifted to Peshawar, the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province.

TV news channels reported that the bomber first hurled a grenade and then exploded the suicide vest.

Hundreds of people displaced or affected by an anti-militancy operation launched by the army had gathered at the UN food agency’s centre in Khar, the headquarters of Bajaur tribal agency, to receive food aid.

The World Food Programme (WFP) said none of its staffers were among the casualties.

The UN agency halted its relief operations in the region following the attack. Footage on television showed that the powerful blast had blackened the walls of the WFP centre and blown out its windows.

Emergency

The injured were taken to Khar’s state-run hospital, where authorities declared an emergency. Witnesses said security forces cordoned off the area and launched a search operation. Reports said up to 1,000 people received food every day at the WFP distribution centre in Khar.

The security forces had launched a major ground and air offensive against the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan in Bajaur in 2008.

The army declared victory over the militants last year though Saturday’s suicide bombing demonstrated that they retained the capability to carry out attacks in the region.

The use of a woman for a suicide attack represents a new challenge for the Pakistani security forces as women cannot be searched in tribal regions due to local customs and sensitivities.

Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned the attack, describing it as a “brutal activity of the militants who have no regard for humans and religion.”

He said militants are on the run and the people of Pakistan are united against them. “The fight against these elements would continue till their complete elimination,” he said.

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