Suicide bomber in school uniform kills at least 27 during soldiers' parade in Pakistan

Bomb blast: The schoolboy apparently wandered in to the military facility which should have been secure (file picture)Bomb blast: The schoolboy apparently wandered in to the military facility which should have been secure (file picture)A 'schoolboy' suicide bomber killed at least 27 soldiers and injured 40 more in an attack on a inside a military base in Pakistan.

The teenager was wearing his school uniform when he apparently wandered into the secure base and hit the parading troops, police said.

The incident happened in Mardan at a military recruitment centre in the north-west of the country which has been targeted by Islamist militants.

Senior police official Abdullah Khan said 27 soldiers died and around 40 were wounded, some critically.

It was believed the suicide bomber walked into the facility without being checked - even though it should have been heavily guarded. No one has yet claimed responsibility for the blast.

A military official said: 'The bomber struck recruits when cadets were busy in their morning training.'

Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani condemned the attack at the Punjab Regiment Centre in the town of Mardan.

'Such cowardly attacks cannot affect the morale of the security agencies and the resolve of the nation to eradicate terrorism,' he said in a statement.

A previous explosion at the same facility killed 35 soldiers in 2006. The blast came at a time of political and economic uncertainty in Pakistan.

Yesterday Pakistan's prime minister dissolved his 50-plus member Cabinet in order to replace it with a smaller group in response to demands for greater financial savings in the economically struggling country.

The dissolution of the Cabinet, which included a mass resignation by ministers, also is a concession to opposition leaders whose support the government seeks to pass broad economic reforms insisted upon by international lenders whose billions are keeping Pakistan afloat.

'The prime minister has dissolved the Cabinet after receiving resignations from the ministers, and it has been done to further reduce the size of the Cabinet,' said Farahnaz Ispahani, spokeswoman for the ruling Pakistan People's Party.

She added that the move aims for 'fiscal austerity.'

Pakistan's economy relies heavily on loans from the International Monetary Fund, and the government has struggled to raise revenues, in part because many residents avoid paying taxes.
Chronic power shortages have hampered economic growth and floods last year caused massive damage to infrastructure.

But the ruling party's efforts to impose new economic policies have been rebuffed by the opposition and even some allies.

Analysts say shrinking the Cabinet - along with other concessions - could help the People's Party appease other groups and ultimately gain their support for economic reforms.
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