Death toll in Pakistan bombing exceeds 100

By Haq Nawaz Khan and Joshua Partlow
Saturday, July 10, 2010; 2:37 AM

PESHAWAR, PAKISTAN -- The death toll in a massive suicide bombing climbed to more than 100 victims Saturday, as authorities continued to search mounds of rubble for survivors.

Local officials raised the casualty count from Friday's bombing to 102 dead and 115 wounded, making it Pakistan's deadliest attack of the year, the Associated Press reported. The bombing targeted government offices and a prison in Pakistan's volatile tribal borderlands.

The blast tore through a large crowd, including disabled people who were at the government center in the Mohmand Agency to collect wheelchairs, Pakistani officials said. The agency is part of the northwestern Federally Administered Tribal Areas.

Dozens of shops and buildings buckled, and a barrier wall at the prison collapsed, freeing several insurgents, a Pakistani intelligence official said.

The attack showed the resilience of insurgents along Pakistan's border with Afghanistan, a rugged region that is the main refuge for Taliban and al-Qaeda militants still willing to strike at government installations despite a stepped-up military campaign by the Pakistani army.

The army has failed to defeat insurgents in Mohmand after years of fighting.

Ghulam Rasool, the deputy political administrator of Mohmand, told local reporters that the blast had targeted his office but that he was not there at the time and was unharmed. Other officials said four policemen were among the dead.

One bomb was transported on a motorcycle, officials said, and the AP reported that a second bomb exploded nearly simultaneously.

Some officials described the prison as the primary target. A political officer in the region told local reporters that about 25 prisoners, including four insurgents, fled the prison when its main gate and a portion of the boundary wall caved in.

"The target was mainly the prison in Yaka Ghund, to release some of the arrested militants," the intelligence official said.

Partlow reported from Kabul. Khan is a special correspondent.

© 2010 The Washington Post Company