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Suicide bombing in northwest Pakistan mosque leaves at least 23 people dead, many injured

An injured Pakistani blast victim arrives at a hospital Friday following a suicide bombing at a mosque in the Mohmand tribal district.
(Hasban Ullah/AFP/Getty Images)

A suicide bomber struck a mosque in northwest Pakistan’s troubled tribal region where worshipers gathered for Friday prayers, leaving at least 23 people dead and many injured, officials said.

The suicide bomber blew himself up in Pai Khan, a village in the Mohmand tribal agency, near the border with Afghanistan.

At least 28 people were injured in the blast, according to a political official in Mohmand Agency who spoke to The Times by phone.

The remote location of the blast was complicating emergency rescue efforts, said the official, who requested anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.

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Some victims had been transported to the town of Khar, about two hours away by road in a neighboring tribal agency, he said.

“The village is situated … on difficult terrain and it has been taking time to rescue the injured,” he said.

Anwarullah Khan, a Khar-based journalist, reached the hospital where victims were being treated and said the small medical facility in Khar was overwhelmed. Doctors had begun referring cases to Peshawar, the nearest major city, about 50 miles to the south.

“Most of the injured people seemed to be in serious condition,” Khan said.

No group immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. The tribal area along the Afghan border has long been home to Pakistani Taliban insurgents who attack mosques and other civilian targets as part of a long-running battle against the Pakistani government.

The Pakistani military has waged a two-year offensive that it says has routed militants from the rugged tribal belt. But analysts believe many fighters escaped over the border into Afghanistan and have been able to cross back into Pakistan.

Sahi is a special correspondent. Times staff writer Shashank Bengali reported from Kabul, Afghanistan.

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UPDATES:

7:30 a.m.: This article was updated with Times reporting and a higher death toll.

This article originally was published at 4:45 a.m.


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