31 Pak soldiers killed in ‘schoolboy’ suicide attack

INT

In one of the deadliest strikes on the Pakistan Army, a schoolboy suicide bomber sneaked into a heavily guarded Pakistani Army training centre in the country's northwest on Thursday and blew himself up in the midst of a parade, killing 31 soldiers and leaving 40 more wounded.

"It was a suicide attack by a 12-year-old bomber in school uniform," top police officer Abdullah Khan said on the early morning attack on the Army's elite Punjab Regimental Centre at Mardan, 60 kms from Peshawar.

Thirty-one Army personnel were killed and 40 others injured, most of them critically, in the powerful blast at 8.15 am. An army spokesman confirmed the incident.

The responsibility for the hit was claimed by Tehreek-e-Taliban, who threatened to carry out even "bigger strike" to avenge US drone strike and military operation in the region.

The hit on the Punjab Regimental Centre was one of the worst strikes on the Pakistan Army, deeply involved for the last two years in operations in the restive Khyber-Pakhtunkhawa province bordering Afghanistan, to flush out Taliban militants.

Khan said that the schoolboy managed to sneak into the sprawling heavily-guarded compound carrying a lethal payload apparently in his school bag and triggered the explosion as the troops were readying for the daily parade.

Television quoted witnesses as saying that the blast was so powerful that it blew soldiers away from the ground. The bomber was able to sneak into the centre as he was wearing the uniform of a school located opposite the Army facility.

Superintendent of Police Sirajul Hasan said that the boy was carrying 9 kilograms of explosives and his legs and other body parts had been found, but there were conflicting reports about the bomber's identity.

While police and military officials said the strike was carried out by a schoolboy, the Taliban claimed it was the handiwork of a soldier, who had turned over.

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