Authorities in Pakistan say a suicide attack in a northwestern tribal region bordering Afghanistan has killed at least 50 people. The deadly attack took place in the Mohmand tribal district where Pakistani security forces are engaged in anti-insurgency operations.
Witnesses and officials say two suicide bombers riding motorbikes and disguised as policemen detonated their devices in the main government compound in Ghalanai, the administrative center of the border region.
The apparent target was said to be a traditional meeting of local officials and tribal elders discussing the formation of anti-Taliban militia.
The top government administrator in the area, Amjad Ali Khan, spoke to reporters on the scene shortly after the attack. Khan said the attacks were so deadly because the bombers had filled their suicide jackets with bullets. Nearly 100 people have been wounded, he said, and some of them are in critical condition.
The official says that security guards caught one of the bombers at the main gate, but he was able to detonate his explosives. He said tight security arrangements were put in place for the meeting. "It was comparatively a soft target because obviously when too much public is visiting a place, you cannot ensure fool-proof security, so that is why it was targeted," said Khan.
Tribal elders, police, local officials and two journalists are among those killed in the attack.
The attack is the latest strike against local tribesmen who are being encouraged by the Pakistani government to take up arms against the Taliban to assist security forces in securing the border with Afghanistan.
Last month a suicide bomber attacked a mosque in another tribal area, killing at least 70 people.