At least 48 people were killed and 80 injured today when a suicide bomber on a motorcycle struck outside a government office in Pakistan.
The bomber detonated his explosives near the Yakaghund village office of a top administrator of the Mohmand tribal region, Rasool Khan.
Mr Khan, who was in his office at the time, escaped unharmed. He said some 70 to 80 shops in the area were damaged or destroyed by the powerful blast.
A prison building was also damaged, and some 28 prisoners – ordinary criminals, not militants – had apparently escaped, he said.
The attacker was on a motorcycle and trying to gain entry to the office when he was stopped and detonated the bomb.
The attack indicated that militants remain a potent force in Pakistan’s tribal belt, which borders Afghanistan, despite army offensives.
The US has praised Pakistan for taking on Islamist extremists who use the tribal region to plan attacks on Western troops across the border, but the militants have often retaliated on Pakistani soil.
Footage from the blast area today showed dozens of men searching through piles of yellow brick and mud rubble in search of survivors.
Mohmand is one of several areas in Pakistan’s lawless tribal belt where Taliban and al Qaida are believed to be hiding.
The Pakistani army has carried out operations in Mohmand, but it has been unable to remove the militants.