KHAR, Pakistan — Senior Pakistani officials on Sunday confirmed that a deadly bombing in the lawless tribal belt was carried out by a burqa-clad woman, in the country’s first known case of a female suicide attack.
The suicide blast on Saturday, claimed by the local Taliban, hit a United Nations’ food distribution point and killed 43 people in Khar, the main town in the restive Bajaur tribal region bordering Afghanistan.
“We have found hair and hand and feet body parts painted with henna at the site of the attack, which leaves no doubt that the bomber was a woman,” top local administration official Zakir Hussain Afridi told AFP.
“We are conducting investigations to work out which tribe and area the woman belonged to,” he said.
Another senior administration official, Muhammad Jamil, confirmed that the bomber was a woman.
The assistant head of police for Khyber Pahkhtoonkhwa province, Shafqat Malik, said it was the first proven case of a woman suicide bomber in Pakistan.
“Some attacks reported to be carried out by women in the past could not be proven,” said Malik, who also leads the province’s bomb disposal squad.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned the attack.
“You saw that a woman carried out a suicide attack yesterday,” Gilani said in a televised press conference in the central city of Multan.
“It is our collective responsibility to expose these black sheep and bring them to justice,” he added.
A spokesman for the Pakistani Taliban, Azam Tariq, claimed responsibility for the bombing, which he said targeted the local pro-government Salarzai tribe that runs its own anti-insurgent militia.
Pakistan’s military first conducted operations in Bajaur in August 2008 and have repeatedly claimed to have eliminated the Islamist militant threat.
Bajaur is one of seven Pakistani tribal districts, which the United States considers the global headquarters of Al-Qaeda and among the most dangerous places on Earth.
Around 4,000 people have died in suicide and bomb attacks across Pakistan since government forces raided an extremist mosque in Islamabad in 2007. The attacks have been blamed on networks linked to the Taliban and Al-Qaeda.