A bomb claimed by the Pakistani Taliban killed 20 soldiers and wounded 30 when it ripped through a military convoy in the restive northwest yesterday, officials said.
The attack, one of the deadliest to hit Pakistani security forces in recent years, happened in the city of Bannu near the North Waziristan tribal region which is a stronghold of militants linked to the Taliban and al-Qaeda.
"A vehicle-borne improvised explosive device caused the blast," a senior military official told AFP, adding the exact circumstances were unclear.
An official statement said 20 soldiers were killed and 30 injured in the attack, which hit one of the vehicles in the convoy at 8:45am.
The convoy was about to leave for the town of Razmak in North Waziristan when the blast hit one of the civilian vehicles hired to move troops.
Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan spokesman Shahidullah Shahid claimed responsibility.
"It was part of our fight against a secular system," he told AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location.
"We will carry out more such attacks in future," he said, adding the Taliban were seeking revenge for the deaths of their former chief Hakimullah Mehsud and deputy Waliur Rehman -- both killed in US drone attacks.
Taliban insurgents have led a bloody campaign against the Pakistani state since 2007. They have carried out hundreds of attacks on security forces and government targets.
Bannu was the scene of a jailbreak last April when some 150 heavily-armed Islamists stormed a prison and freed 400 inmates including many militants.
Pakistani troops have for years been battling the Taliban and other homegrown insurgents in the tribal belt next to the Afghan border, which Washington considers the main hub of militants plotting attacks on the West and in Afghanistan.