ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN — Pakistan said Friday that two gunbattles with insurgents near the country’s border with Afghanistan had killed an army major and two soldiers.
The latest casualties increased Pakistani soldiers’ death toll nationwide this year to more than 200 in counterterrorism operations and insurgent attacks.
On Friday, the military’s media wing reported that intelligence led its forces to a group of terrorists in the mountainous North Waziristan border district.
The ensuing gunfight left Major Amir Aziz and a soldier dead while a terrorist was also killed, said the Inter-Services Public Relations, or ISPR.
Separately, a pre-dawn shootout in Khyber, another district on the Afghan border, killed a soldier and a key “terrorist” operative who was “actively” involved in attacks against Pakistani security forces and civilians, according to the ISPR.
Both districts are in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
On Thursday, a suicide bomber riding a motorcycle struck a military convoy in the Bannu district of the province, killing nine soldiers and wounding five others.
No group claimed responsibility for the violence in three turbulent districts where the banned Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) routinely carries out attacks against security forces and takes responsibility for plotting them.
This year, TTP-led insurgent violence in Pakistan has killed more than 500 people, mostly police and military personnel. The army has confirmed the deaths of 216 officers and soldiers in the first eight months of 2023.
Pakistan maintains that fugitive TTP leaders have increasingly directed cross-border terrorism from sanctuaries in Afghanistan since the Afghan Taliban returned to power in the neighboring country two years ago.
The United States and the United Nations have listed TTP as a global terrorist organization. A recent U.N. report estimated that as many as 6,000 TTP militants operate in Afghanistan. The group is a known offshoot and close ally of the Afghan Taliban.
Afghanistan’s Taliban authorities reject the allegations, saying they don’t allow anyone to use their soil against other countries, including Pakistan.
Source : VOA News