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30 soldiers killed in Pakistan blast

Anita Joshua
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Deadliest attack on a military installation in recent times

The site of a suicide bomb attack in Mardan on Thursday. — PHOTO: Reuters
The site of a suicide bomb attack in Mardan on Thursday. — PHOTO: Reuters

Over 30 soldiers were killed and more than 40 injured on Thursday in a suicide attack on a military base in the north western part of Pakistan bordering the Mohmand tribal agency where security forces are engaged in an anti-Taliban operation.

According to the police, the bomb was detonated by a teenaged suicide bomber who entered the fortified complex of The Punjab Regiment Centre in Mardan in Khyber-Pukhtoonkhwa — formerly the North West Frontier Province — dressed in the uniform of a nearby school. He detonated himself around 8-15 a.m. while recruits were participating in their drill. This is the second time that terrorists have penetrated this military base. In the last attack in 2006, 35 soldiers had been killed.

According to local reporters, the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) has claimed responsibility. This is the deadliest attack on a military installation in recent months. Since the beginning of this year, terrorists have been targeting police stations across the province and the provincial capital of Peshawar has taken several such hits in recent weeks.

There were conflicting reports about the identity of the suicide bomber. While security forces maintained that he was a teenaged boy, the Associated Press reported that the TTP claimed the bomber was a soldier from the Mardan military camp who had volunteered to carry out a suicide attack.

The AP quoted a Taliban spokesman as saying the bomber approached them saying “he wanted to sacrifice his life for Islam'' and “we accepted his offer and told him to target his fellow soldiers in Mardan''.

If the bomber was indeed a soldier, then this would be the second high profile attack by a security personnel this year; the first being Punjab Governor Salman Taseer's assassin who was a member of the elite force of the Punjab Police.


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