Suicide blast in govt office in Pakistan, 22 dead, 40 injured

Islamabad: A suicide bomber attacked a government office in Pakistan on Tuesday, killing at least 22 people and wounding more than 30, officials said. The attacker targeted a branch of the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra), which issues government ID cards, in the northwestern town of Mardan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, police officer Naeem Khan told Reuters. “A suicide bomber riding an explosives-laden motorcycle hit the Nadra office in Mardan where a large number of people were standing in queues,” he said.

21 Killed In A Blast At Government Office In Pakistan: Official

At least 16 bodies and 34 wounded were brought to Bach Khan Medical Complex, medical superintendent Dr Zulfiqar Durrani said by telephone. A Nadra employee, Mohammad Tariq, was inside when he heard the huge blast outside the office premises. “We are still inside the office, and the police and rescue workers are busy in their work,” he said.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility but Pakistani Taliban militants, fighting to bring down the state, have been responsible for numerous similar attacks over recent years.

A Nadra employee, Mohammad Tariq, was inside when he heard the huge blast outside the office premises.

“We are still inside the office, and the police and rescue workers are busy in their work,” he said.

Jamaat ur Ahrar, a faction of the Pakistani Taliban that is fighting to overthrow the government and establish hard-line Islamist rule, claimed responsibility.

Spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said the office was part of the “heathen Pakistan state” and therefore a legitimate target.

“God willing, we will target all Pakistani organisations that are either directly or indirectly a part of this war,” Ehsan said in a statement.

The Pakistani Taliban once controlled swathes of remote territory in the northwest, but a series of military offensives that began in 2009 has pushed them back into a few pockets.

There have been fewer militant attacks in towns and cities over the past year or so, compared with several years ago, but the Taliban remain a potent threat.

© Thomson Reuters 2015