Pakistan mosque suicide bombing: Death toll rises to 36, including 8 children

A splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaat-ur-Ahrar (TTP-JA), claims responsibility for the attack.

Pakistan said on Sunday that the death toll from the Taliban suicide bombing at mosque in north-west tribal Pakistan on Friday has risen to 36, including eight children.

The attack took place during the Friday prayers in the village of Payee Khan, in the Mohmand Agency region of the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (Fata) bordering Afghanistan.

"We have now compiled a list of victims of the blast which includes 36 dead and 27 injured. At least eight children below the age of 10 years are among the dead," Naveed Akbar, deputy chief of the Mohmand tribal district administration, told AFP.

"Many children were hit in the blast because they were praying in the last rows in the mosque where the bomber struck," he added.

Earlier on Friday, Akbar said the suicide bomber was among the crowd in the mosque. The suicide bomber shouted 'Allahu akbar' (God is greatest) and "then there was a huge blast".

Police said a curfew had been imposed in the area soon after the bombing.

A splinter group of the Pakistani Taliban, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan Jamaat-ur-Ahrar (TTP-JA), claimed responsibility for the attack.

The group said it was a revenge attack on the village tribesmen for launching an assault on its forces that killed 13 of its members and also for capturing militants and handing them over to the government by a local vigilante force in 2009.

The government has encouraged vigilante forces including tribesmen, who are locally known as peace committees, to defend their villages against the Taliban since 2007.

Haji Subhanullah Mohmand, a local tribal said local tribesmen gathered a volunteer force and killed one insurgent. They managed to capture another.

The frontier regions of Pakistan have been the sanctuary of fighters from al Qaeda, the Taliban and other militant groups from a long time. These regions are also hard to access due to the rough terrain which has been advantageous for the groups.

Earlier this month, a suicide bomber attacked a court in Mardan killing 14 people, while in August another suicide bomb attack killed 73 people, half of which were lawyers.

However, the deadliest-ever attack that occurred in Pakistan was when Taliban militants stormed a school in Peshawar killing more than 150 people, mostly children.

In June 2014, the army launched an operation to wipe out militant bases in the northwestern tribal areas. The army also wanted to bring an end to the insurgency that has cost thousands of civilian lives since 2004.