A female suicide bomber detonated her explosives-laden vest, killing at least 43 people at an aid distribution center in northwestern Pakistan today, while army helicopter gunships and artillery killed a similar number of Islamic militants in neighboring tribal regions near the Afghan border, officials said. The bombing appeared to be the first suicide attack staged by a woman in Pakistan, and was claimed by the Pakistani Taliban.
The bomber struck in the main city in Bajur, a region near the Afghan border where the military has twice declared victory over Taliban and al-Qaeda insurgents. "Police asked for her identity, but she ran toward the center and lobbed hand grenades," said a local official. "She exploded herself when she reached the crowd" of about 300. A Taliban spokesman said the victims were targeted because most belonged to a tribe that was among the first to organize a militia to fight the Taliban. "Everybody was crying," said one survivor. "It was blood and human flesh everywhere." (Read more Pakistan stories.)