PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A suicide bomber rammed an explosives-laden vehicle into a military checkpoint in Pakistan’s troubled northwest today, killing at least 20 people.


Farid Khan, a senior police official in the nearby town of Hangu, says the explosion demolished the checkpoint and severely damaged an adjacent building housing troops and police.


He says at least 18 members of the security forces as well as two civilians died.


More than a dozen other people were wounded, including the local police chief.


In a statement, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani condemned the attack as a “cowardly act of terrorism” and said the government would use an “iron hand” against terrorists and extremists.

Pakistan is under intense international pressure to crack down on an increasingly integrated array of Islamist extremist groups blamed for bloody attacks in Afghanistan, Pakistan and India.