Islamabad: Suicide bombers attacked a military checkpost in Pakistan’s troubled northwest on Saturday, killing 13 soldiers and 11 civilians, officials said, in an assault claimed by the Taliban.
Local Taliban fighters raided a security forces’ camp in the Lakki Marwat district of Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakthunkhwa province, the state-run radio said.
Dozens of militants armed with assault rifles and rocket-propelled grenades attacked the camp located in the town of Serai Naurang before dawn. Eight security personnel were also injured in the clash.
According to reports on the channel a militant had sought refuge in the house and detonated an explosive tied to his body as security personnel surrounded the premises.
Saturday’s attack was the latest associated with targeting the Pakistani army and took place near the semi-autonomous tribal belt where Taliban and Al Qaida-linked militants have carved out strongholds.
Another official said that the civilians were killed when one of the suicide bombers ran into a house as security forces attempted to repel the attackers from the checkpost.
“A suicide bomber entered a nearby house in a residential colony of the irrigation department and blew himself up. Four children, three women and four men were killed there,” Nisar Ahmad, a senior government official, said.
“The explosion damaged four houses in the colony. Civilians who were killed in the attack were residents of these houses,” he said.
The attack was on a joint checkpost of the Pakistan army and a paramilitary force in the Sarai Norang area of Lakki Marwat district.
Another security official in Peshawar said security forces killed 12 militants. The Taliban claimed they were responsible but disputed 12 militants were killed, saying they had sent only four suicide bombers.
Later on Saturday evening, one soldier was killed and three others were wounded when an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) exploded in a compound, where they were conducting a search operation, in the Orakzai tribal district.
Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack. Its spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan told the Dawn News channel by telephone that suicide bombers were also involved in the attack.
The spokesman said the attack was in retaliation for the recent deaths of two Taliban commanders in US drone strikes. He accused the Pakistani army of helping with the attacks.
The camp attack followed a devastating suicide bombing Friday in the Hangu district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. Some of the dozens of injured people died in hospital.
The TTP reportedly claimed responsibility also for the Hangu suicide attack outside a Shia mosque that targeted worshippers leaving after Friday prayers.
Taliban and Al Qaida-linked militants are accused of plotting attacks from the tribal belt on Pakistani, Afghan and Western targets.
The Taliban and other militants have in recent months increased their attacks on targets associated with the Pakistan army and the country’s air force bases.
They attacked Peshawar airport in December last year forcing security personnel to fight for two days to clear the area.
Pakistan came under huge US pressure to do more to destroy militant sanctuaries after US Navy SEALs found and killed Al Qaida leader Osama Bin Laden in the Pakistani military town of Abbottabad on May 2, 2011.
Pakistan says more than 35,000 people have been killed as a result of terrorism in the country since the 9/11 attacks on the United States.
— With inputs from AFP