A suicide bomber struck a court complex in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar on Thursday, killing 16 people and injuring nearly 30 others in the latest in a wave of terrorist attacks that has rocked the country since the military launched a major offensive against the Taliban.
The bomber, described by witnesses as a youth in his twenties with a slight beard, blew himself up when he was stopped by policemen guarding the gate of the Judicial Complex on Khyber Road within Peshawar cantonment.
The cantonment is a high-security area as the residence of the local army corps commander; the provincial assembly and offices of provincial ministers are located nearby.
Sixteen bodies and 28 injured people were brought to the Lady Reading Hospital, said Shahib Gul, the deputy medical superintendent of the facility. Five of the injured were in a critical condition, he told mediapersons.
Three policemen were among the dead, said district administration chief Shahibzada Anees.
"The bomber was on foot and tried to enter the main gate of the Judicial Complex. When the security personnel stopped him and were searching him, he blew himself up," Anees told mediapersons at the site of the attack.
Police cordoned off the area and briefly blocked the Khyber Road as ambulances ferried bodies and the injured to hospital.
Witnesses said the bomber came to the area in a taxi. Officials of the bomb disposal squad said eight to 10 kg of explosives was used in the attack.
Several cars and motorcycles were destroyed by the blast. Footage on television showed documents and shoes lying scattered at the site of the blast. The complex was crowded at the time when the bomber struck.
This was the fifth terrorist attack in Peshawar this month. Hundreds of people have died in a series of suicide attacks and bombings in cities across Pakistan since October.
Nearly 120 people were killed in a car bomb attack on a busy market in Peshawar last month.
Terrorists have mainly struck security facilities, including the army's headquarters in Rawalpindi and the Inter-Services Intelligence agency office in Peshawar, though some recent attacks have targeted public places like markets.