US PRESIDENT Barack Obama condemned Saturday’s “outrageous terrorist attack” in northwestern Pakistan in which a suicide bomber killed dozens of people at a World Food Program project.
“I strongly condemn the outrageous terrorist attack in Khar, Pakistan,” Mr Obama said in a statement from Hawaii, where he was spending Christmas with his family.
“Killing innocent civilians outside a World Food Program distribution point is an affront to the people of Pakistan, and to all humanity,” Mr Obama added.
The blast occurred in Khar, the main town of lawless Bajaur tribal district, once a stronghold of Taliban militants who have carried out several bombings and suicide attacks in the area, which is near the Afghanistan border.
A suicide bomber wearing a burqa, and who some officials said was a woman, killed at least 43 people and wounded 100 as many of them queued for food that was being distributed by the United Nations food agency.
Most of the victims belonged to the local Salarzai tribe which supported military action against the militants and formed a militia to force them from Bajaur.
“The United States stands with the people of Pakistan in this difficult time, and will strongly support Pakistan’s efforts to ensure greater peace, security and justice for its people,” Obama said in his brief statement.
Washington considers Pakistan’s lawless tribal belt the global headquarters of Al-Qaeda and says eliminating the militant threat is vital to winning the nine-year war against the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan.
The United States maintains an uneasy alliance with Pakistan, where Obama has dramatically escalated the use of unmanned US drones to pound Al-Qaeda and Taliban militants.
Islamabad tacitly cooperates with the bombing campaign, which US officials say has severely weakened Al-Qaeda’s leadership, but has been reluctant to go after the militants in North Waziristan and elsewhere.