Bomb kills 17 soldiers in North Waziristan
14 January, 2013
MIRANSHAH: A roadside bomb killed as many as 14 soldiers in the northern border region of North Waziristan on Sunday, military officials said, a day after the Pakistani Taliban leader called for attacks on the military in the area to stop.
The explosion occurred on a road about 50 km south of the provincial capital of Miranshah. Twenty-one soldiers were wounded in the attack, senior army officials said.
A spokesman for the Mujahideen Ansar, a group dominated by Uzbek fighters, claimed responsibility and told Reuters the attack was retaliation for the Pakistani army's complicity in drone strikes. The group is allied to Pakistan Taliban fighters. Pakistan frequently protests publicly about US drone strikes but has not taken any legal steps to end them.
The improvised explosive device struck the convoy in Dosali village in the troubled North Waziristan tribal district, a notorious stronghold of Taliban and Al Qaeda-linked militants, a senior military official said. All the soldiers killed were in one truck and those injured were in vehicles behind it, he added.
Local residents said military helicopter gunships had reached the scene after the attack. Nobody immediately claimed responsibility but Taliban militants frequently attack security forces in the area.
On Saturday, Hakimullah Mehsud, the leader of the Pakistani Taliban, had circulated a leaflet calling for an end to the Taliban's infrequent attacks on Pakistani soldiers in North Waziristan. Thousands of soldiers are stationed in North Waziristan.
The ceasefire did not apply to the rest of the country, where there are often fierce clashes between the Taliban and security services.
The mountainous tribal region of North Waziristan along the Afghan border is a key stronghold of the Taliban and al Qaeda. South Waziristan is under the control of the Wazir tribe, who have a peace deal with the military.
It was unclear if the leaflet was related to rumours of splits in the movement. It called on local and foreign fighters to unite because "the enemy is trying to divide and rule us".
The Taliban have formed alliances with a number of other militant groups in North Waziristan who are violently opposed to the Pakistani state.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Sunday strongly condemned the attack. The prime minister said these cowardly acts could not deter the government and people of Pakistan to fight against the terrorists and militants. He said the whole nation stands along with the brave armed forces.