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Deadly Suicide Blast Rips Through Pakistan Mosque

A Pakistani child who was injured in a suicide bombing is treated at a local hospital in Khar, Pakistan, Friday, Sept. 16, 2016. A suicide bomber attacked a Sunni mosque in northwest Pakistan on Friday, killing dozens of worshippers.

A suicide blast Friday tore through a crowded mosque in northwestern Pakistan, killing at least 25 people and wounding at least 30 more, officials said.

The bombing happened in Mohmand Agency, one of the seven semi-autonomous Pakistani districts on the Afghan border.

A spokesman for a splinter faction of the Pakistani Taliban contacted VOA and took responsibility for the blast. The Jamaatul Ahrar (JuA) faction said the bomber targeted the mosque because members of a pro-government tribal militia, named the Peace Committee, were among the worshippers.

Last month, the United States designated JuA a global terrorist organization, saying the group has staged multiple attacks on civilians, religious minorities, military personnel and law enforcement, and was responsible for the killing of two Pakistani employees of the U.S. Consulate in Peshawar in early March.

Pakistani officials allege the terrorist group operates out of Afghan border areas and receives support from the intelligence agency of the neighboring country, charges Kabul denies.

Militants linked to the Pakistani Taliban and JuA have killed tens of thousands of people over the past decade in suicide and other terrorist attacks across Pakistan.

Pakistani military and paramilitary forces have conducted major operations against militant bases in the tribal belt along the Afghan border and claim to have eliminated the threat.

Officials say more than 3,500 terrorists have been killed since the army-led Zarb-e-Azb offensive was launched in the North Waziristan tribal districts and surrounding areas. About 540 soldiers also have died in the counter-militancy campaign.

Critics say recent rise in attacks, however, suggests the militants remain capable of inflicting major assaults, though most of them have targeted civilian installations, including hospitals and public parks.