PESHAWAR: A brief lull in Taliban violence ended with back-to-back attacks on paramilitary troops in Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa. Five troops were killed in a suicide attack on a paramilitary camp in Bannu district on Saturday.
The attack came a day after militants seized 15 soldiers in a daredevil attack on a paramilitary fort in the nearby Tank district.
“A suicide bomber drove his four-wheeler, packed with explosives, into a camp of paramilitary Tochi Scouts on Kohat Road,” local police officer Shahid Wazir told The Express Tribune. “The bomber struck on the back side of the building, bringing down most part of the structure,” he added.
The camp serves as a stopover for paramilitary troops in their risky drive to the restive tribal region of North Waziristan, Wazir said.
Preliminary investigation suggests that the explosive-laden vehicle was driven from the tribal belt to the site of the attack, he added.
“The double-cabin vehicle used in the pre-dawn attack was packed with 500 kilos of explosives,” an official of the Bomb Disposal Unit told The Express Tribune.
Following the blast, security forces mounted a manhunt in the region and detained at least 13 suspects for questioning, sources said.
The banned Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed responsibility for the attack. The group’s spokesperson Ehsanullah Ehsan phoned journalists in Peshawar to claim responsibility. He warned that more such attacks would be carried out by TTP fighters.
Sources said that pamphlets were also distributed in Bannu and neighbouring areas warning shopkeepers selling music CDs and movies to shut down their businesses because “the era of the Taliban will soon return”.
Saturday’s deadly bombing came a day after hundreds of armed militants mounted a brazen attack on a paramilitary fort in the Mullazai area of Tank district. In that attack, one soldier was killed and 15 were kidnapped by the attackers.
The violence broke out amidst media reports claiming schisms among the Taliban ranks over negotiating with the government.
Published in The Express Tribune, December 25th, 2011.