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Suicide bomber kills 13 near Pakistan army HQ

A suicide bomber has killed at least 13 people near Pakistan’s army HQ in the city of Rawalpindi, the military say.

Those who died included eight military personnel and five civilians, three of them schoolchildren. The blast in a crowded market left 29 others injured.

The attack came a day after 20 soldiers were killed in the north-west when a bomb blast struck an army convoy.

Pakistan’s Taliban claimed both attacks, which follow weeks of relative calm since their leader was killed.

Hakimullah Mehsud died in a US drone strike in November and was replaced by Mullah Fazlullah.

Police say a group of soldiers had been passing on foot at the moment of Monday’s explosion in Rawalpindi, located just south of the capital, Islamabad.

Rawalpindi Police Chief Akhtar Hayat Lalika told Reuters news agency that the market, 10 minutes away on foot from the army base, was in one of the most secure areas of the city.

A resident was quoted by AFP news agency as saying that windows in nearby buildings were shattered in the blast.

“The intensity of the blast threw me off my chair. I rushed outside and saw smoke everywhere. I saw injured lying and screaming on the ground,” shop owner Liaqat Ali said.

Sunday’s explosion left at least 24 others injured.

Soldiers and paramilitary forces were planning to leave the town of Bannu, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, for Razmak in North Waziristan, when their convoy was hit by the blast.

The two most recent attacks mark a swift escalation of violence and are among the most serious assaults on the military in recent months.

Correspondents say they will refresh concerns about Pakistan’s strategy for dealing with militancy, with the government keen to pursue peace talks.

The BBC’s Aleem Maqbool in Islamabad says at present the government strategy to deal with the Pakistan Taliban appears to many to be utterly confused.