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KOHAT, July 19: At least 18 people, including three children, were killed and more than 15 injured in a suicide bomb attack inside a mosque in the cantonment area here on Thursday night.

Officials and eyewitnesses said the bomber had managed to enter the well-guarded Pathan military training centre, joined the Isha prayers in the mosque and blew himself up.

The military cordoned off the whole area and called in extra military troops from the Pakistan Army’s Ninth Division.

It is learnt that there were some civilians besides the military personnel offering prayers, but it could not be ascertained how many of them were among the dead.

After completing preliminary investigations, senior military and city officials shifted bodies and the injured to the Combined Military Hospital.

When this story was filed at 12.30am preparations were under way to send the bodies to their native towns and villages.

Kohat, which has the oldest cantonment in the country, has come under attack more than a dozen times since 9/11. In many cases time bombs and rockets were used.

The terrorists once planted explosive devices on the route used by the commanding officer of the Pakistan Army, who is also the field commander of Waziristan Operations.

He was lucky to escape but two senior intelligence officers of the Intelligence Bureau were killed in one of the blasts.

The airbase from where the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) ferried 156 Al Qaeda men, arrested on the borders with Kurram Agency soon after the US launched attack on Afghanistan in 2001, has also come under artillery attack by militants several times.

And now the police and the army have established permanent check posts around it.

Agencies add: “It was a suicide attack,” area police chief Zulfiqar Cheema siad.

“The severed head of the suicide bomber has been recovered,” said Cheema, and a sketch was being drawn to help identify the man.