A suicide bomber struck a vehicle carrying Pakistani security personnel in the restive Khyber tribal region on Wednesday, killing at least 19 people and injuring eight others. The bomber, who was on foot, was hiding in a roadside market in Jamrud sub-division of Khyber.
He detonated his explosive jacket when the vehicle was passing the area, witnesses said. Nine personnel of the Khasadar militia, including an officer, and three civilians were killed in the blast. Officials said eight injured security personnel were taken to the North West Frontier Province capital of Peshawar, located nearly five kilometres away.
They said the officer who was killed in the attack had received threats from militants as he had launched successful operations against the insurgents in recent months.
Another Khasadar militia personnel, who died, had recently received a medal for meritorious services. Local residents said traffic on the Pakistan-Afghanistan highway was suspended after the attack. No group has claimed responsibility for the attack.
Security forces cordoned off the site of the blast and launched an intensive search operation. TV channel footage showed the vehicle of the Khasadar force and another car that were destroyed in the attack. Several militant groups, including the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan and Lashkar-e-Islam, are active in the Khyber tribal agency which borders Afghanistan.
Militants in Khyber regularly attack tankers and trucks ferrying oil and supplies to United States' and North Atlantic Treaty Organisation's forces in Afghanistan. Pakistan has witnessed a string of deadly bombings and suicide attacks since October last year when the military launched an operation in the Taliban stronghold of South Waziristan. Hundreds of people have been killed in these attacks.