Pakistan Suicide Bombing Kills Dozens

At least 40 people have died in a suicide bomb attack on a large crowd receiving aid in north-west Pakistan. The blast took place in the town of Khar in the Bajaur region, in tribal areas close to the Afghan border - a Taliban and al-Qaeda stronghold. Hundreds of people displaced by fighting had been receiving food at a distribution centre.

(BBC)

At least 40 people have died in a suicide bomb attack on a large crowd receiving aid in north-west Pakistan.

The blast took place in the town of Khar in the Bajaur region, in tribal areas close to the Afghan border - a Taliban and al-Qaeda stronghold.

Hundreds of people displaced by fighting had been receiving food at a distribution centre.

Reports say at least another 50 people have been injured and the death toll could rise.

Pakistani Army soldiers rush people who were injured in a suicide bombing to a hospital

'Safe' area

Saturday's bombing was the latest in a string of recent attacks in Pakistan's north-west.

No group has so far said it carried out the attack on the centre, used by the World Food Programme and other aid agencies to distribute food to conflict-affected people in the region.

"I myself have counted 40 bodies but the death toll could rise as several wounded people are in critical condition," Dosti Rehman, an official at the main government hospital in the region, told Reuters news agency.

Dozens of injured people are being taken to hospital by helicopter.

Around 4,000 people have died in suicide attacks since a 2007 government raid on the Red mosque in Islamabad

Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gillani condemned the attack and said those responsible had no regard for humanity or religion.

He said the fight against militants would continue.

Most of the victims are believed to be civilians who had fled fighting between Taliban militants and the Pakistani army, the BBC's Aleem Maqbool in Islamabad reports.

The tribal district of Bajaur, where the attack took place, has seen several military operations to clear it of insurgents - the army had previously declared the operations a success, and the area safe for the displaced to return to, our correspondent adds.

Pakistani television has broadcast footage of victims arriving at hospitalAmong recent other attacks, at least 11 Pakistani soldiers and 24 militants were killed on Friday after some 150 Taliban fighters attacked five Frontier Corps checkpoints in the neighbouring Mohmand tribal region.

Earlier this month, a suicide bomb attack in Mohmand left at least 40 people dead.

A double suicide bombing in Mohmand in July killed more than 100.

Pakistan has faced growing US pressure to launch a major ground offensive in the nearby tribal region of North Waziristan, considered a haven for Islamist insurgents.

Islamabad has denied accusations that it is not doing enough to fight the Taliban in the north-west, pointing out that more than 2,400 of its soldiers have died fighting militants since 2002.

Pakistan supported the Taliban regime in Afghanistan from 1996-2001, but later became an ally of the US when it led an invasion in 2001.

BBC