PESHAWAR: At least 26 people were killed and 50 others injured when a powerful blast occurred near the National Database and Registration Authority (Nadra) office on Nisatta Road in Mardan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, on Tuesday.
The attack was claimed by Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) splinter group Jamaatul Ahrar, which was also behind last year’s deadly blast at Wagah Border.
However, TTP central spokesman Mohammad Khorasani in a statement distanced his group from the Mardan attack, saying “we have nothing to do with blasts at public places,” reported BBC Urdu.
The explosion ripped through the front entrance of a regional branch of Nadra.
“At least 26 people have been killed and more than 50 injured,” said provincial information minister Mushtaq Ghani. “[The] condition of 11 of them is still critical,” Ghani added.
The blast took place at a time when the office was crowded with people lining up to make applications for National Identity Cards (NIC).
Deputy Inspector General Mardan Division Saeed Wazir told DawnNews the blast was a “suicide attack carried out by a bomber”.
The DIG added that a security guard posted at the office stopped the bomber at the gate, after which he detonated his suicide vest. The suicide attacker was on a motorbike and rammed it into the gate after being denied entry, he said.
Conflicting reports suggest that explosives may have been planted on a motorcycle parked near the Nadra office.
District police chief Faisal Shahzad said the suicide bomber was riding a motorbike. “Apparently the target was the queue as there were around 400 people standing there,” Faisal said.
Some of those critically wounded were taken to the main Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar city.