Security officials examine the site of a suicide bombing in Khar, the main town of Bajaur tribal region, May 4, 2012. — Photo by AFP

KHAR: A suicide bomber killed at least 24 people and wounded at least 45 on Friday in an attack on a police checkpoint in northwest Pakistan’s Bajaur tribal region.

The bomber struck near a crowded market in Bajaur, one of tribal regions near the Afghan border where the military has mounted offensives in recent years against the al Qaeda-linked Pakistani Taliban, the biggest security threat to the country.

Dr Mohammed Aafif at the Headquarters Hospital in Khar confirmed the death toll. At least three of the dead were policemen, including a senior officer, another official said.

Police and security forces sealed off the site of the attack.

The Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), or Pakistani Taliban, claimed responsibility for the attack.

“We carried out the attack today,” said TTP spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan. “We are very happy today that we have achieved our target.”

Pakistan, a strategic US ally, has failed to break the back of the Taliban despite numerous crackdowns.

The Taliban have mounted suicide bombings, which have often killed civilians, and shooting attacks on security forces in their bid to topple the government.

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