Islamabad: A Taliban suicide bomber rammed his explosives-laden vehicle into a paramilitary camp in northwest Pakistan on Saturday killing at least nine troopers and injuring 17 others, the second attack in as many days aimed at avenging a militant commander's killing in a US drone strike.
The bomber attacked an office of the Frontier Corps in Bannu city of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. The single-storey building and several nearby shops were severely damaged by the powerful explosion.
Five troopers were killed instantly and four more bodies were later found in the rubble, officials told the media.
The 17 injured security personnel were taken to a military hospital in Bannu, where officials said several troopers were in critical condition.
Sources said nearly 300 paramilitary troopers were living in the camp, which had several residential barracks.
The camp is a base for Frontier Corps personnel deployed in nearby North Waziristan tribal region, considered a safe haven for Taliban and al-Qaeda elements.
The Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack and said it would continue targeting security forces.
"We claim responsibility for the attack‚ which was carried out to avenge the killing of Taliban commander Taj Gul in a US drone strike in South Waziristan last month," Taliban spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said. "Our attacks will continue against the security forces."
Bannu is located 40 km from Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan.
Footage on television showed most parts of the camp were razed to the ground.
Security personnel dug through the rubble of the office with their hands as they searched for bodies and the injured.
Local residents said they heard a powerful explosion at about 6 am local time. This was followed by heavy firing, they said.
Security personnel blocked all roads leading to the camp on the outskirts of Bannu city.
This was the second attack on security forces in Pakistan's restive northwest in two days.
Taliban militants attacked a check post near South Waziristan tribal agency early on Friday and killed a paramilitary trooper and kidnapped over a dozen.
While claiming responsibility for yesterday's attack also, Ehsan said, "The Taliban are holding 17 Frontier Constabulary men hostage."
Ehsan had earlier threatened that the kidnapped security personnel could be killed.
Officials have confirmed that at least 15 troopers went missing after Friday's attack‚ but it is unclear whether they deserted or were abducted.
The Taliban have again stepped up attacks after a lull of several weeks in the wake of reports that they were engaged in peace talks with the government.
The Army and the Interior Minister have denied the reported talks but the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan deputy chief, Maulvi Faqir Muhammad, had confirmed the parleys.