LAKKI MARWAT: At least nine soldiers were martyred and five others sustained injuries when a suicide bomber on a motorbike targeted a military convoy in the Janikhel town of Bannu district on Thursday evening, the army said.

In a late-night statement, the military’s media wing identified one of the martyred soldiers as Naib Subedar Sanobar Ali. It said the security forces had cordoned off the area and were combing it for more terrorists.

“Security forces of Pakistan are determined to eliminate the menace of terrorism and such sacrifices of our brave soldi­ers further strengthen our resolve,” the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said.

Official sources said the bomber targeted the military convoy when it reached Malikhel checkpoint. They said the martyred and injured soldiers had been shifted to the Combined Military Hospital (CMH) in the Bannu cantonment.

PM condemns attack, says Pakistan stands resolute against terror

Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar condemned the suicide attack in a statement. “Heartbroken by the loss of 9 valiant soldiers in Bannu Division, KPK, to a cowardly terrorist act that injured many. Such acts are utterly reprehensible. My thoughts are with the families of the martyred and injured,” he posted on X (formerly Twitter).

Thursday’s suicide attack came four days after terrorists attacked a police mobile van in Darra Pezu town of the Lakki Marwat district, martyring two elite police officials and injuring three others.

The Janikhel town of Bannu district has remained in the limelight for terrorist attacks and violent protests by local tribe members in the previous years.

In March 2021, the killing of four teenage boys sparked protests in the town and residents placed their bodies outside a police station to protest the brutal killings.

The protesters also tried to march on the city of Bannu, but they later postponed the demonstration after signing an agreement with the government.

Another wave of protests took place in the area the same year when attackers mur­­dered a tribal chief, Malik Naseeb Khan.

In recent months, the army has killed several militants during intelligence-based operations in the town.

Published in Dawn, September 1st, 2023

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