Taliban militants on Friday hit Pakistan's lawless NWFP as a suicide bomber detonated his explosive-laden car outside a mosque after Friday prayers at Timergarah in Dir district, killing 12 people, mostly policemen.
The bomber struck as the people were leaving the mosque near the police lines after prayers and most of the victims were policemen from the nearby station, police officials said.
Witnesses said the victims included a woman and two children. The toll could rise as the condition of some of the 28 people injured in the attack was critical.
Some senior police officers of the Dir district, from where the army claimed to have cleared the Taliban militants in a almost three-month long operation, were present in the mosque but escaped unhurt.
Deputy Inspector General of Police Idris Khan confirmed the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber and said the attacker was unable to hit the police complex because of strict security measures.
Officials said two suspects were arrested soon after the blast.
The explosion destroyed four cars and damaged the mosque and several nearby buildings. Human flesh lay strewn at the site of the blast as smoke engulfed the police complex. Security forces cordoned off the area as ambulances took the dead and injured to nearby hospitals. No group claimed responsibility for the attack.
Militants have targeted mosques during Friday prayers on several occasions in the recent past. Forty people, including a serving army major general, were killed in a suicide attack on a mosque frequented by military personnel in Rawalpindi on December 4.
Hundreds of people have died across Pakistan in a recent wave of bombings and suicide attacks blamed on the local Taliban.
Security forces conducted a major operation in Malakand region earlier this year after Taliban fighters took advantage of a peace deal in the Swat valley to extend their influence to Dir and Buner districts.
The army has said that Dir and Buner have been cleared of militants.
President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned Friday's attack. Zardari said the perpetrators of such crimes will not be spared as the government is committed to root out terrorism from the country.
In a separate message, Gilani said terrorists and extremists are Pakistan's biggest enemies and every effort will be made to eradicate them.