A suicide bomber blew himself up near a pickup truck carrying passengers in northwestern Pakistan on Tuesday, killing up to 18 people, officials said.
The bomber boarded the truck as it traveled to a village near the city of Dera Ismail Khan after he was challenged by police who thought he acting suspiciously, said Habibur Rehman, the district’s police chief.
When police stopped the truck and the suspected bomber was asked to come down to be searched, he detonated the explosives strapped to his body, said city councilor Malik Khan Zaman. Two police were among the dead, he said.
Interior Ministry spokesman Brig. Javed Iqbal Cheema said 16 people were killed and 16 wounded. Dr Ahsan Waheed at a local hospital where the victims were taken said 18 were killed and 18 wounded, four seriously.
Television footage showed blood splattered at the scene and several nearby vehicles, including a jeep, damaged by the explosion. Police were seen collecting body parts in plastic bags.
According to witnesses, the bomber appeared to be only 14 or 15 years old, a police official said on condition of anonymity because he was unauthorized to make media comments.
The bombing is the latest in a spree of militant attacks in Pakistan’s borderlands near Afghanistan where pro-Taliban fighters have gained sway and pose a growing threat to the authority of the state.