Pakistan: Four Soldiers Killed in Roadside Blast
By Staff, Agencies
Authorities in Pakistan say a roadside bombing Friday near the Afghan border killed at least four soldiers and injured four others, while two separate bomb blasts in the country's southwest region killed five people belonging to the minority Shia Muslim community.
An army spokesman said a security force convoy was traveling through the Kharkamar area of the remote North Waziristan district when it was hit by an improvised explosive device that terrorists had planted on the road.
A lieutenant colonel, a major and a captain were among the dead.
The military noted the attack took place in an area where security forces had "conducted search operations and arrested a few facilitators" of recent terrorist attacks in the North Waziristan district. The increase in violence during the last month has killed at least 10 soldiers and injured 35 others, it added.
Meanwhile, officials in southwestern Baluchistan province said two separate bomb blasts Friday killed at least five people and injured more than 12 others. The victims were members of Pakistan's minority Shi'ite Muslim community, they added. Separatist ethnic Baluch groups and militants linked to the outlawed Pakistani Taliban, as well as Islamic State are active in the province.
There were no claims of responsibly for both the attacks.
Friday's attack in North Waziristan took place in the area where clashes broke out last month between Pakistani security forces and protesters linked to an ethnic-based local rights group, Pashtun Tahafuz Movement [PTM], that left at least 13 people dead and many more wounded, including several security personnel.
Police have since rounded up around two dozen PTM activists, including two central leaders, on charges of attacking security forces and disturbing public order.
The detained PTM leaders, Mohsin Dawar and Ali Wazir, who are elected members of the Pakistani parliament, strongly rejected the allegations and instead claimed troops fired on peaceful protesters who were agitating against alleged military abuses and demanding release of their supporters.
The Pakistan government and the military in particular are accused of blocking news coverage of PTM rallies and related public activities. PTM has been accused of trying to incite ethnic-based violence at the behest of intelligence agencies of neighboring India and Afghanistan, charges the rights group rejects as baseless and propaganda.
North Waziristan had long been condemned as an "epicenter" of international terrorism by the United States for harboring al-Qaida and other transnational terrorists, as well as members of the Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.