Suicide attack at Pakistan army facility kills 10
PESHAWAR, Pakistan – A suicide bomber on foot attacked a group of soldiers during their morning exercises at an army training camp in northwest Pakistan on Thursday, killing at least 10 soldiers, security officials said.
The attack happened in the town of Mardan, which like many other parts of Pakistan's regions bordering Afghanistan has been the target of Islamist militant attacks. It signaled that Taliban fighters under siege from army offensives in the region retain the ability to strike back.
Several soldiers also were wounded in the blast, police official Nawaz Khan said.
An army spokesman confirmed the attack and the circumstances, but said the death toll was 14, with around a dozen soldiers wounded. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to media on the record.
It was not immediately clear how the bomber got into the facility undetected. Such army areas are usually heavily guarded, though an attack on the same training facility in 2006 killed 35 soldiers.
Thursday's attack comes at a time of political and economic uncertainty in Pakistan, whose cooperation the U.S. needs to end the war in Afghanistan.
On Wednesday Pakistan's prime minister dissolved his 50-plus member Cabinet in order to replace it with a smaller group in response to demands for greater financial savings in the economically struggling country.
The dissolution of the Cabinet, which included a mass resignation by ministers, also is a concession to opposition leaders whose support the government seeks to pass broad economic reforms insisted upon by international lenders whose billions are keeping Pakistan afloat.
"The prime minister has dissolved the Cabinet after receiving resignations from the ministers, and it has been done to further reduce the size of the Cabinet," said Farahnaz Ispahani, spokeswoman for the ruling Pakistan People's Party. She added that the move aims for "fiscal austerity."
Pakistan's economy relies heavily on loans from the International Monetary Fund, and the government has struggled to raise revenues, in part because many residents avoid paying taxes. Chronic power shortages have hampered economic growth and floods last year caused massive damage to infrastructure.
But the ruling party's efforts to impose new economic policies have been rebuffed by the opposition and even some allies. Analysts say shrinking the Cabinet — along with other concessions — could help the People's Party appease other groups and ultimately gain their support for economic reforms.