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KHAR, Jan 30 Seventeen people, three Levies personnel among them, were killed and 47 others injured on Saturday when a burqa-clad suicide bomber blew himself up at a checkpoint near Bajaur Scouts Camp.

The attacker, said to be 16 or 17-year-old, was stopped by the Levies personnel at the post in the main bazaar of Khar town, witnesses said. He detonated the explosives strapped to his body after troops ordered a body search, they added.

According to some officials, the limbs and shoes recovered from the scene indicated that the bomber was a woman. They added, however, that police had yet to arrive at a conclusion.

The Bajaur Levies personnel killed in the attack were identified as Havaldars Aqeel Khan and Ghulam Ali, and Lance Naik Ziaur Rehman.

The other dead were identified as Nasir Khan, Noor Badsha, Mohammad Jamal, Obaidullah, Gul Mohammad, Irfan Khan, Ashraf Khan, Rehmatullah, Hazrat Shah, Ijaz Khan, Sodair Khan, Farman and Yusuf. Most of them were local residents.

The injured were taken to DHQ hospital, Khar. Later, the critically wounded were referred to hospitals in Peshawar.

The blast was so powerful that several shops and two vehicles parked nearby were destroyed.

Officials of the political administration and a large number of Bajaur Levies personnel reached the place, cordoned off the area and started rescue work.

All the shops were closed and an indefinite curfew was imposed on Khar after the blast.

Political agent Iqbal Khan confirmed that it was a suicide attack, saying the head and legs of the attacker had been recovered.

AFP adds A senior military official said that the bomber was making his way to nearby government buildings and military barracks when he was stopped by security personnel.