Boy suicide bomber kills 31 at Pakistan army

MARDAN, Pakistan Thu Feb 10, 2011 11:00am EST

Policemen ask residents to disperse as they stand near the site of a suicide bomb attack at a paramilitary training centre in Mardan, northwest Pakistan February 10, 2011. REUTERS/Fayaz Aziz

Policemen ask residents to disperse as they stand near the site of a suicide bomb attack at a paramilitary training centre in Mardan, northwest Pakistan February 10, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Fayaz Aziz

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MARDAN, Pakistan (Reuters) - A boy in a school uniform blew himself up at a Pakistani army recruitment center on Thursday, killing 31 cadets, officials said, in an attack that challenges government assertions it has weakened militants.

The army has carried out a series of offensives against the Qaeda-linked Pakistani Taliban, which claimed responsibility for the attack.

Operations in lawless tribal areas along the Afghan border have failed to break the resolve of Taliban fighters determined to destabilize the U.S.-backed government.

The brazen bombing in the northwestern town of Mardan suggested militants are regrouping after a lull in major attacks.

In a sign of how nervous the government is about security, soldiers at the gates of the military compound searched drivers before allowing them to transport coffins inside.

Militant operations in recent months have been mostly sectarian and have not focused on military targets.

"The bomber struck recruits when cadets were busy in their morning training," a military official told Reuters. At least 20 people were wounded.

A military statement said a boy had walked into the compound and blew himself up, without giving his age. An intelligence official said he was 12 years-old but government officials later said he was around 19 or 20 years old.

The Taliban said they had carried out the attack, adding it had targeted recruits because "Pakistani army is working for American interests in Pakistan."

"It seems the Taliban are still a very potent force because they continue to attack installations, even if they have been quiet for a time," said former general Talat Masood.

The Taliban have previously launched bold attacks on the military, nuclear-armed Pakistan's most powerful institution.

Last March, two suicide bombers killed at least 45 people in the city of Lahore, including nine soldiers.

In 2009, Pakistani Taliban militants disguised as soldiers attacked the army's headquarters in Rawalpindi and later took 42 people hostage in a nearby office building.

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani condemned Thursday's attack at the Punjab Regiment Center.

Gilani's government faces pressure on several fronts.

It is trying to revive a stagnant economy propped up by an$11 billion International Monetary Fund loan which requires politically sensitive reforms.

Public discontent is growing over official corruption, rampant poverty and power cuts.

Washington, the source of billions of dollars in aid, is pressuring Pakistan to intensify its fight against both domestic militant groups and ones that cross the long, porous border to attack Western forces in Afghanistan.

Tensions between the allies are also running high over the case of Raymond Davis, a U.S. embassy employee who killed two Pakistanis in late January.

The U.S. embassy in Islamabad says Davis is a diplomat who acted in self-defense, and that, as he enjoys diplomatic immunity, should be released.

The Pakistanis say it is a matter for the courts to decide, as handing Davis over to the Americans would deepen anti-American sentiment in Pakistan.

(Additional reporting by Zeeshan Haider, Saud Mehsud and Rebecca Conway; Writing by Michael Georgy; Editing by Miral Fahmy)

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Comments (4)
I wonder if strapping bombs to children will endear them to the people…?

Feb 10, 2011 6:15am EST  --  Report as abuse
CharlyH wrote:
“Please report Islamic bombings correctly. They are not SUICIDE but they are HOMICIDE! … And the person who performs this act is a murderer, not a saint or performing a holy act of sacrifice

Your reports using the wrong word plays into the hands of these religious fanatics by giving their heinous acts legitimacy. This allows them to think they are going to their heaven and be thanked by their god for ridding the world of non-believers and get their 70 virgins, or whatever. Their Imams convince them of this and are able to get them to willingly strap on the explosives and pull the pin in a crowd – an act that defies all normal attempts at self-preservation by sane humans.

If the news media will continually brand their acts as Homicides and them as Murders, maybe, just maybe there will be fewer nut-cases who will blow themselves up because they will begin to question the veracity and purpose of their leaders.

The dictionary definitions support what I am saying and you are morally pledged on your oath to print the truth, to label them correctly: ”

the intentional taking of one’s own life.
a person who intentionally takes his or her own life.
the killing of one human being by another or multiple human beings
a person who kills another; murderer.

Feb 10, 2011 7:19am EST  --  Report as abuse
RckyMtns wrote:
The entire country of pakistan is one gigantic corrupt sewer pit filled with terrorists.
And yet our ever so stupid president continues to fund their worthless military and pay their salaries.
The real problem facing world peace and the stoping of terrorism is Obama, who funds most of the armies in that region of the world with our tax payer dollars.

Feb 10, 2011 10:14am EST  --  Report as abuse
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