Female suicide bomber kills 40 at food center in Pakistan

More than 50 wounded; woman dressed in traditional garb threw hand grenades into crowd, then detonated an explosive vest.

Pakistani paramilitary soldier (photo credit: Associated Press)
Pakistani paramilitary soldier
(photo credit: Associated Press)
KHAR, Pakistan — A Pakistani official says a suicide bomber, who was apparently a woman, has killed at least 40 people and wounded more than 50 others in an attack on a food distribution center in the country's northwest.
Local police official Fazal-e-Rabbi says the bomber, dressed in a traditional women's burqa, first lobbed two hand grenades into the crowd gathered at a checkpoint outside the food center in the town of Khar on Saturday.
Obama war progress review: Taliban, al-Qaida diminished
A View From Israel: The Afghan conundrum
Rabbi says the attacker, believed to be a woman, then detonated an explosive vest.
The official says people from various parts of the Bajur tribal region gather daily at the center to collect food tokens distributed by the World Food Program and other agencies to conflicted-affected people in the region.
On Friday, some 150 Islamist militants attacked five security posts in an unusually large and coordinated assault close to the Afghan border, sparking hours of fighting that killed 11 soldiers and 24 insurgents, officials said.
Al-Qaida and Taliban militants often stage attacks in northwest Pakistan, but the overnight assaults were notable for their size and the level of planning needed. They underlined that insurgents in the tribal areas along the frontier retain significant capabilities despite multiple military offensives in the region since 2008.
It is also rare for authorities to sustain — or admit to sustaining — such heavy casualties in a single day.

The troops called in helicopter gunships to help push back the militants, said Maj. Fazl Ur Rehman, a spokesman for the Frontier Corps security force. The fighting ended by morning.
What little information the army gives out about its operations in the tribal regions is nearly impossible to verify independently because access is restricted and the conflict zones are dangerous. The army says 2,500 of its soldiers have been killed by Islamist militants there since 2001.