LANDI KOTAL, Pakistan, (Reuters) – A suicide bomber killed 37 people when he blew himself up in a crowded Pakistani mosque near the Afghan border yesterday, government officials said.
The attack came hours before U.S. President Barack Obama announced a new strategy for the Afghan war, an approach U.S. officials said would also recognise Pakistan as a key part of the conflict.
Militant violence has surged in nuclear-armed Pakistan since mid-2007, with numerous attacks on the security forces and government and Western targets.
Police, paramilitary forces and government officials were among the congregation in the mosque near Jamrud town, about 30 km (20 miles) from the Afghan border, when the attack happened.
The bomber set off his explosives as an imam, or prayer leader, began the service.
“The moment the imam said Allahu Akbar (God is Greatest), the blast went off,” said Tauseer Khan, 70, from a hospital bed in the nearby Pakistani city of Peshawar.
“It was huge. I still can’t hear properly,” said Khan, who had wounds to his hands and face. His son and grandson were also wounded.