By JANE PERLEZ
Published: May 13, 2011
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — More than 70 paramilitary soldiers were killed when a suicide bomber blew himself up Friday morning at a military training center in northwest Pakistan, a local police chief said.
The bombing was the first major terrorist attack since the American raid in Abbottabad on May 2 that killed Osama bin Laden.
It was not immediately clear if the attack was in revenge for the Americans’ action. Local officials said that it was likely connected to the Pakistani Army assault against Taliban militants in the nearby mountainous region of Mohmand in Afghanistan.
The suicide bomber attacked members of the Frontier Constabulary at Shabqadar Fort in the town of Charsadda as they were preparing for their graduation ceremony, said Liaqat Khan, the police chief in nearby Peshawar.
The death toll was almost certain to rise and could end up to be the highest number of law enforcement officials to be killed in a terrorist attack in recent years, Mr. Khan said. At least 80 people were injured, officials said.
The bomber was in a car outside the fort when he detonated the explosives about 6 a.m., just as the graduates were gathering for the graduation, which was scheduled to start two hours later.
A second bomber was likely to be involved in the attack, Mr. Khan said.
The bombing appears to be connected to militants who are fighting the Pakistan Army in Mohmand, a tribal region near Charsadda.
The army recently launched the third phase of a ferocious two-year offensive aimed at trying to drive militants out of Mohmand. The army has recently suffered heavy losses in the fighting.
The Taliban in Mohmand have been able to force the Pakistani Army into a lengthy campaign by seeking refuge in sanctuaries across the border in Afghanistan’s Kunar Province. NATO forces in Afghanistan have been assisting Pakistan by going after the militants as they escape across the border.
The Frontier Constabulary forces who were the target of the suicide attack on Friday are not involved in the fighting in Mohmand. They serve as security guards at checkpoints in Khyber Pakhtunwha Province, but their graduation, officials said, provided an accessible target for the militants to drive home their message.
A version of this article appeared in print on May 13, 2011, on page A6 of the New York edition with the headline: Blast Kills at Least 70 in