By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — At least nine Pakistani soldiers have been killed and 20 more injured in a suicide attack that targeted a security convoy in northwestern Pakistan.
The attack on August 31 was carried out by a suicide bomber riding a motorcycle, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations Agency (ISPR) said in a statement.
The statement added that “the army is committed to eliminating terrorism.”
The attack occurred in the Jani Khel area of the Bannu district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province (KPK) near the North Waziristan tribal district bordering Afghanistan.
There has been no claim of responsibility.
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar-ul-Haq Kakar condemned the bombing.
“Heartbroken by the loss of 9 valiant soldiers in Bannu Division, KPK, to a cowardly terrorist act that injured many. Such acts are utterly reprehensible,” Kakar said on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
The number of deadly suicide attacks on security forces in and near North Waziristan in 2023 has been increasing. North Waziristan served as a base for insurgents until the army announced years ago that it had cleared the region of local and foreign militants.
One of the most deadly was a suicide bombing on July 30 at a political rally for the Jamiat Ulema Islam-Fazl (JUI-F) party that killed more than 50 people in the Bajur district, a stronghold of the Tehrik-e Taliban, also known as the Pakistani Taliban, a close ally of Afghanistan’s Taliban-led government. The Islamic State-Khorasan (IS-K) extremist group claimed responsibility.
There have been frequent protests and repeated calls for the government to maintain security in the region.
The government and the military have stressed that they have carried out operations against the militants and claimed the actions have achieved success in the past few years.
The attack compounds security concerns in the runup to a national election expected to take place later this year. Elections are to be held before early November following the end of the government’s tenure in the first half of August.