Suicide bomber kills 35 Pakistani soldiers

A suicide terrorist detonated a bomb at the Pakistan army's main training camp Wednesday. The blast killed 35 soldiers as they were preparing for calisthenics exercises, the military said.

"A man wrapped in a cloak came running into the training area and exploded himself where recruits had gathered for training," the army said in a statement.

No one claimed responsibility for the explosion in Dargai, 100 kilometers (60 miles) north of Peshawar, the capital of North West Province. If it is confirmed that Islamic militants carried out the attack, it would be the deadliest so far by the insurgents on the Pakistani army.

Shortly after the explosion, security agents captured an alleged accomplice of the suicide bomber after chasing him into a nearby village, an intelligence official said on condition of anonymity because he wasn't authorized to speak to the media.

The official didn't reveal the identity of the suspect, and only said he had been moved to an army detention facility for questioning.

Local resident Lal Zaman, 25, told The Associated Press that he was sitting at a nearby shop when the attack occurred.

"I saw body parts and injured people everywhere in the ground where the soldiers do their morning exercises every day," he said. "I helped soldiers transport the bodies and wounded soldiers to hospitals."

Inside the grounds, an AP reporter saw officers collecting shoes and other belongings of the dead and injured soldiers.

The military has been waging a campaign to clear pro-Taliban militants from the border region, which it says is used as a staging area for attacks into Afghanistan.

Dargai is also a stronghold of an outlawed Islamic group, Tehrik-e-Nifaz-e-Shariat Mohammadi, or Movement for the Enforcement of Islamic Law, which has been fighting government forces in the tribal regions bordering Afghanistan since 2002.

The group's fugitive leader, Faqir Mohammed, vowed last week to retaliate against the army with suicide bombers for an Oct. 30 Pakistani army raid on an Islamic school that killed 80 people and sparked furious protests across the country.

Pakistan's government said the school in the Bajur tribal region, about 75 kilometers (45 miles) from Dargai, served as a front for training militants. Local people and an Islamic opposition party said almost all the victims were children or teenagers studying at the school.

The drill area where Wednesday's attack occurred is not fenced off and is surrounded only by trees and bushes.

An official said a search had been launched for other possible accomplices of the attacker, the AP said.

"We have some important clues about the attackers, but this information cannot be shared with the media," the official said on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of his job.

Pakistan Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao condemned Wednesday's explosion and said it was linked to the Bajur attack.

In an interview with Pakistan's private Geo television, he said the religious school in Bajur was targeted after authorities received intelligence reports that "miscreants there were receiving training for suicide attacks."

Local community leaders and lawmakers have said that U.S. military drones initiated the attack on the school, a claim Pakistan and U.S. military officials deny.

Pakistan is a key ally in the U.S. war on terror and has deployed about 80,000 troops in the country's tribal areas in an effort to flush out remnants of the Taliban and al-Qaida. Osama bin-Laden is believed to be hiding somewhere in the area.

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