UPPER DIR,: Just a day after the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government announced a phased withdrawal of troops from Malakand division, a Taliban bomb killed two senior military officers and a solider in Upper Dir on Sunday.
Four other security personnel were killed and 10 injured in bomb and rocket attacks in North Waziristan and Frontier Region Bannu.
According to a statement released by the ISPR, Maj Gen Sanaullah, General Officer Commanding for Malakand division, and Lt Col Tauseef Ahmed were returning with a convoy from Shahi Kot in Upper Dir district, near the Afghan border. When they reached Gat area an improvised explosive device planted on a road went off, destroying their vehicle.
“Maj Gen Sanaullah, Lt Col Tauseef Ahmed and soldier Irfanullah embraced martyrdom while two solders suffered injuries,” it said.
The injured were taken to a hospital in Dir.
The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan claimed responsibility for the attack. Its spokesman Shahidullah Shahid told the Dawn correspondent in Ladha on phone from an unspecified place that military officers had been killed by the Swat chapter of TTP. Officials here said they feared the attacks might derail planned peace talks between the government and the Taliban.
When asked about the fate of the decision to withdraw troops from Malakand division, after the killing of the senior army officers by militants, a senior military official told Dawn on condition of anonymity that it was up to the government to decide. The military officers had gone to inspect a security post in Shahi Kot, about 50km west of Dir, the headquarters of Upper Dir district.
Security personnel cordoned off the area after the attack. The district administration imposed a curfew and launched a search for assailants. According to sources, three suspects were arrested and taken to an unspecified place for interrogation. The bodies of Maj Gen Sanaullah and Lt Col Tauseef were airlifted to Islamabad. Both the officers belonged to Baloch Regiment and hailed from Mianwali in Punjab.
Gen Sanaullah had on Sept 6 inaugurated the Jashn-i-Kumrat sports festival in Upper Dir and said that peace had been restored and the government’s writ established in the volatile region.
The festival was called off a day before its conclusion to mourn the death of the officers and expressed solidarity with the army.
The border region in Upper Dir has seen a number of deadly cross-border attacks in which dozens of soldiers have lost their lives, but it was the first time that a high-ranking military officer has been killed.
Three security personnel were killed and four others injured in two bomb blasts in North Waziristan tribal region.
In the first attack, a vehicle of security personnel was hit by a bomb detonated by remote control near Karam Kot on the Miramshah-Mirali road. One soldier was killed and another injured.
Two personnel were killed and three others wounded when a bomb went off near a checkpost on Miramshah-Datakhel road.
Security forces backed by helicopter gunships cordoned off the area and started searching for the attackers. However, no arrest was made till late night.
The political administration imposed a curfew till Monday morning.
One Khasadar (tribal policeman) was killed and four others were injured when militants fired rockets on them in Frontier Region Bannu.
The personnel deployed at Mir Zail checkpost were on routine patrol in the area when they came under the attack.
Forces deployed at a nearby post rushed to the place and opened fire on militants, forcing them to flee.
Two critically injured Khasadars were taken to Peshawar.