Islamabad: The Pakistani Taliban on Saturday claimed responsibility for a devastating suicide attack on a mosque in Khyber Agency that killed over 50 people, saying it was carried out in retaliation for local resistance against the militants.

Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan spokesman Muhammad Talha said in a statement that Friday's attack was directed against the Kukikhel tribe, whose members killed two militants recently.

Talha claimed the tribesmen had also destroyed three Taliban hideouts in the area.

A teenage suicide bomber blew himself up in the Jamia Masjid in Jamrud area of Khyber Agency after the Friday prayers, killing at least 53 people and injuring over 120.

The bombing was one of the worst terrorist attacks in recent months.

A tribal elder in Jamrud area said Taliban fighters had come to the mosque over a week ago to recruit new members.
Local residents refused to join them and said they would not support the Taliban or the Lashkar-e-Islam, another militant group operating in Khyber Agency.

Witnesses said that when the bomber entered the mosque yesterday, he shouted: "Who will throw me out of the area now?"

Over 250 people were in the mosque when the blast occurred.

(Agencies)