A teenage suicide bomber targeted security personnel in a crowded market in the restive Bajaur tribal region of northwest Pakistan today,killing at least 20 people and injuring over 60 others.
The security men had gathered at a shop at the market in Khar,the main town of Bajaur Agency,after conducting a patrol when the teenage attacker approached them and detonated his suicide vest,witnesses said.
Four personnel of the Levies militia and a government official were among the dead. Over 60 injured people were taken to a nearby hospital,officials said.
Several of the injured were in a serious condition and the death toll could rise,doctors at the hospital said.
Witnesses said the suicide bomber was aged between 14 and 17 years.
Officials said they had found the body parts of the attacker.
Footage on television showed several shops that were reduced to a pile of bricks by the powerful explosion.
People dug through the rubble with their hands and removed four bodies. Bloodstained currency notes,ID cards and shoes could be seen lying at the site of the blast.
Initial reports suggested that the bomber had targeted two non-commissioned officers of the Levies militia,one of whom had received a medal for bravery.
Soon after the blast,security forces cordoned off the market while authorities imposed curfew in Khar. Troops set up check posts and began checking people.
Two suspected militants were arrested and suicide vests and grenades were seized from them.
No group has claimed responsibility for the attack though such incidents are usually blamed on the Pakistani Taliban.
At least five persons,including security personnel and pro-government tribesmen,were killed by two bomb blasts in Bajaur Agency yesterday.
The Pakistan Army has conducted several operations in the region to flush out pro-Taliban militants.