Death toll rises to 16 in Pakistan blast, Taliban claims responsibility

Published December 29th, 2015 - 11:41 GMT

At least 16 people have been killed in an explosion Tuesday outside a government building in Pakistan, Reuters reported.

Hospital officials told Pakistani television that at least 30 people have been wounded in the blast, which occurred in the northwestern town of Mardan, located in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. 

The blast was at a branch of the National Database and Registration Authority, which issues ID cards.

"A suicide bomber riding an explosives-laden motorcycle hit the Nadra office in Mardan where a large number of people were standing in queues," police officer Naeem Khan told Reuters.

 At least 16 bodies and 34 wounded were transported to Bacha Khan Medical Complex.

The explosion was caused by a suicide attack, carried out by Jamaat ur Ahrar, a faction of the Pakistani Taliban fighting to overthrow the government. 

A spokesman for the group, Ehsanullah Ehsan said the office was part of the "heathen Pakistan state" and therefore considered a target.

The Pakistani Taliban once controlled a large area of rural territory in northwest Pakistan, but a series of military offensives carried out since 2009 has pushed them back considerably.

The country has seen fewer such attacks over the past year, compared with previous years, but the Taliban remain a threat in Pakistan.

This attack comes just days after a visit by Pakistan's military chief to Afghanistan to revive peace talks with the Taliban.

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