At least 18 people have been killed in a suicide bombing that destroyed a government building in Mardan district in Pakistan's Kyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The powerful explosion targeted the National Database and Registration (Nadra) office in the restive north-western province.
Rescue workers are at the scene of the explosion as authorities confirm it was carried out by a suicide bomber. Saeed Wazir, a senior police official in Mardan, told the Dawn daily that the security guard at the building stopped the suicide bomber, following which he set off the blast. Body parts are reported to be strewn across the site of the explosion.
The suspected bomber was riding a motorbike and rammed into the building to detonate the explosive. Some reports suggested the bomb was placed in one of the parked bikes inside the premises but this has been largely ruled out.
At least 32 people are injured in the attack and 10 of them are thought to be in critical condition. All the injured have been taken to Mardan Medical Complex and Mardan District Hospital.
Though the exact casualty figure is not known, there were a large number of people inside the office building when the bomb went off. The explosion site has been cordoned off as authorities have launched an investigation.
Kyber Pakhtunkhwa, frequently targeted by Islamist extremists, is one of the four north-western Pakistani provinces that have been witnessing an increasing number of extremist attacks in recent months. The province, whose capital is Peshawar, also shares border with Afghanistan.