Authorities in Pakistan say an anti-terrorism raid and bomb blasts have killed at least five security personnel and wounded seven people.
The casualties occurred Saturday in southwestern Baluchistan and northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) provinces.
The army’s media wing said in a statement that security forces carried out an operation in Baluchistan’s Turbat city “based on intelligence about the presence of externally supported terrorists” there.
The ensuing clashes left two soldiers dead and inflicted “heavy losses” on militants. Another soldier was killed in a "related incident” while clearing a terrorist-planted bomb along a route frequented by civilians, according to the statement.
Earlier in the day, a roadside bomb blast on the outskirts of Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan, wounded at least one police official and six civilians, including women.
A senior police officer told local media the explosives were planted in a parked motorcycle and a police patrol was apparently the target. There were no claims of responsibility.
Islamist militants and Baluch separatists both operate in Baluchistan.
Separately, officials in Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province said two policemen were killed when a roadside bomb hit their routine patrol Saturday morning in Bajaur district near the country’s border with Afghanistan. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for that attack.
Cease-fire with TTP
Militants linked to outlawed Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), known as the Pakistani Taliban, often claim responsibly for attacks against military and civil targets across the country. The years of militant violence has killed thousands of Pakistanis, including civilians and security forces.
The Pakistani military has carried out sustained operations against TTP strongholds near the Afghan border in recent years, killing thousands of militants and forcing others to take refuge in Afghanistan.
However, Saturday’s violence came just days after a monthlong cease-fire between the Pakistan government and the TTP went into effect, on November 9, in a bid to sustain a nascent peace dialogue between the two adversaries.
Both sides have said the talks are taking place at an undisclosed location in Afghanistan and the neighboring country’s interim Taliban government is aiding the peace process.
TTP, an alliance of about two dozen militant groups, maintains it is fighting for the implementation of an Islamic system in Pakistan and denounces existing governance as un-Islamic.
Neither side has publicly shared any details of the ongoing discussions, but the government dismisses the TTP demand and maintains the talks are happening strictly in line with Pakistan’s Islamic constitution and legal framework.
Source: Voice of America