At least 23 soldiers killed in Islamist militant attack in Pakistan: Army

Political vacuum in Afghanistan could bolster existing terror groups in Africa(indianarrative)
Representational image: IANS

Dera Ismail Khan: A six-man suicide squad drove an explosive-laden truck into a military camp in northwest Pakistan on Tuesday, killing at least 23 soldiers, the army said, the heaviest death toll in a single attack in years, less than two months ahead of national elections.

The gun and bomb attack, which an Islamist militant group claimed responsibility for, comes as political watchers have already voiced concerns about the holding of polls, scheduled for Feb. 8, 2024, amid a surge in militant attacks in the northwest and southwest regions of the 241 million nation.

The attack occurred in the remote district of Dera Ismail Khan on the edge of lawless tribal regions bordering Afghanistan, the army said in a statement, adding all six attackers were killed in an ensuing battle.

Two security officials had earlier put the death toll at 24. The army had set up the base camp in a police station complex in the Daraban area of the district.

"The attempt to enter the post was effectively thwarted, which forced the terrorists to ram an explosive-laden vehicle into the post, followed by a suicide bombing attack," the army statement said. The resulting blasts led to the collapse of the building, causing multiple casualties, it added.

The army said the attack came a day after two soldiers were killed in different operations in the region, along with 21 militants. Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaar ul Haq Kakar condemned the attack, a statement from his office said.

Several of the wounded were in critical condition, said Aizaz Mehmood, an official of the state-run rescue service. In a statement, a Pakistani Taliban group, the Tahreek-e-Jihad Pakistan (TJP), which has emerged recently and claimed several attacks in recent months, said its militants carried out the attack aimed at the Pakistani army.

It was not immediately clear whether the group was linked to the main Tahreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) group of Islamist and sectarian militants, which has targeted the state and its agencies for years, seeking to overthrow the government and replace it with rule based on their harsh brand of Islamic law.

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