Twenty-five Pakistan Army soldiers were martyred while 27 terrorists were killed in three separate incidents in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa’s Dera Ismail Khan, the military’s media affairs wing said on Tuesday.

According to the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), “heightened activities” were witnessed in the district on the nights of December 11 and 12.

In the early hours today, a group of six terrorists attacked a security forces’ checkpost in the Daraban general area, it said.

“The attempt to enter the post was effectively thwarted which forced the terrorists to ram an explosive-laden vehicle into the post, followed by a suicide bombing attack.

“The resulting blasts led to the collapse of the building, causing multiple casualties; 23 brave soldiers embraced shahadat, while all six terrorists were effectively engaged and sent to hell,” the ISPR said.

It added that sanitisation operations were being conducted to eliminate any other terrorists present in the area. “Security forces of Pakistan are determined to wipe out the menace of terrorism from the country and such sacrifices of our brave soldiers further strengthens our resolve,” the ISPR said.

Tehreek-i-Jihad Pakistan (TJP), a new group affiliated with the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), claimed responsibility for the attack on the checkpost.

The TJP spokesman in his claim said four bombers, belonging to Lakki, Dera Ismail Khan, Swat and Mardan districts, took part in the attack.

Pakistan has recently been claiming the involvement of Afghans in terrorist attacks and the statement by the TJP appears to suggest otherwise.

Meanwhile, the ISPR said 17 terrorists were killed in a separate intelligence-based operation in the Darazinda area of Dera Ismail Khan.

️It further stated that two soldiers embraced martyrdom while four more terrorists were neutralised in another intelligence-based operation in the Kulachi area.

“️The killed terrorists were actively involved in numerous terrorist activities against security forces as well as killing of innocent civilians. Weapons, ammunition and explosives were also recovered during the operations,” it added.

This is the military’s highest single-day death toll from terrorist attacks reported this year. Before this, 12 soldiers were martyred in separate military operations in the Zhob and Sui areas of Balochistan in July.

Pakistan issues ‘strong demarche’ to Afghan diplomat

The Foreign Office (FO) said that the foreign secretary had called in the Afghan charge d’affaires to deliver “Pakistan’s strong demarche in the context of today’s deadly terrorist attack” in DI Khan.

“The attack, whose responsibility has been claimed by the TJP, a terrorist group affiliated with the TTP, resulted in multiple causalities, including the martyrdom of 23 security personnel,” the FO said.

The Afghan charge d’affaires was asked to immediately convey the following to the interim Afghan government; to fully investigate and take stern action against the perpetrators of the attack, publicly condemn the terrorist incident at the highest level, take “immediate verifiable actions” against all terrorist groups and their sanctuaries, apprehend and handover the perpetrators of the attack and the TTP leadership in Afghanistan to Pakistan, and take all necessary measures to deny the persistent use of Afghan soil for terrorism against Pakistan.

“Today’s terrorist attack is yet another reminder of the terrorist threat to peace and stability in the region. We must act resolutely with all our collective might to defeat this menace. On its part, Pakistan remains steadfast in its commitment to combat terrorism,” the FO said.

‘We will fight back till terrorism is eliminated’

Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar strongly condemned the attack and said the security forces would not be demoralised by such “cowardly acts”, state-run Radio Pakistan reported.

He said the entire nation salutes the martyrs who sacrificed their lives in the war against terrorism. The premier also directed authorities to provide the best medical treatment to the injured persons.

Separately in a post on X (formerly Twitter), PM Kakar said that “dedication, sacrifice and valour in the face of terror is unparalleled and a beacon of hope for our nation”.

The prime minister also extended his deepest sympathies to the families of brave martyrs. “We will fight back till the menace of terrorism is eliminated from our motherland,” he added.

President Arif Alvi, in a statement, said such cowardly acts could not shake the resolve of the security personnel.

Caretaker Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani said, “Terrorists and their handlers, wherever they are, will pay for their cowardly attacks”.

“Our brave soldiers are ready to make the ultimate sacrifice to blunt the nefarious designs of enemies. Heartfelt condolences with families of victims of today’s attack and prayers for martyrs,” he said in a post on X.

Caretaker Interior Minister Sarfaraz Bugti also condemned the terrorist attack and expressed deep sorrow over the loss of lives.

PPP Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari extended condolences to the grieving families and called attacks on both civilians and security forces unforgivable.

Meanwhile, former president Asif Ali Zardari emphasised the need to eradicate the menace of terrorism. He also prayed for the recovery of the injured.

Former Sindh governor Dr Ishratul Ibad said he was saddened by the heinous attack. “My heartfelt condolences go out to the families of the fallen security men, and I wish for the injured to recover quickly,” he said.

PPP leader Sherry Rehman and PTI leader Ali Muhammad Khan also condemned the attack. “The losses we suffer only strengthen our implacable resolve to fight such a twisted mindset,” she said.

The latter said that the “evil plans of the enemies of the state” would always be thwarted.

No loss of life reported in IED blast near police van in Lakki Marwat

Separately, an improvised explosive device (IED) exploded near a police vehicle on routine patrol in KP’s Lakki Marwat. However, no loss of life was reported in the incident.

Lakki Marwat District Police Officer (DPO) Tariq Habib told Dawn.com that the Gabila police station house officer was on routine patrolling in the area when the IED blast occurred.

He said that the policeman was unhurt in the attack. DPO Habib said that the IED was planted on the roadside, adding that it detonated at a distance from the police vehicle.

He also refuted reports that alleged that the police vehicle was damaged in the incident and that explosives were planted under a bridge.

Pakistan has witnessed an uptick in terror activities in recent months, especially in KP and Balochistan, after the TTP ended its ceasefire with the government in November last year.

On Nov 3, a bomb blast targeting police personnel killed five people and injured over 20 others in DI Khan.

On Oct 31, a policeman was martyred after unknown militants opened fire on a police camp in Dera Ismail Khan. That same day, two soldiers were martyred in an IED blast in the South Waziristan district.

According to data released by the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies, the country experienced a 34 per cent increase in anti-state violence last month. It showed KP as the most affected province, documenting 51 attacks, causing 54 fatalities and 81 injuries.

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