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2 soldiers killed in roadside blast in NW Pakistan

At least two Pakistan army soldiers were killed in a roadside bomb blast in the northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, the military said on Saturday.

According to Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the army’s media wing, an improvised explosive device exploded while a military vehicle was passing over it in Bara, Khyber District, killing Naib Subedar Hazrat Gul and Sepoy Nazir Ullah Mehsud in the process.

Soon after the incident, security forces cordoned off the area and launched an operation to eliminate any terrorists in the area.

“Pakistan’s Security Forces are determined to eliminate the menace of terrorism and such sacrifices of our soldiers further strengthen our resolve,” said the ISPR.

The latest incident came just a day after Pakistan’s top civilian and military body, the National Security Committee (NSC), approved an operation against the militants following an increase in attacks on security forces across the country, most of which were claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), a consortium of several militant groups.

A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office on Friday after the NSC meeting said it had agreed to launch a new multi-pronged and comprehensive operation, with diplomatic, security, economic, and social efforts for the elimination of the menace of terrorism in all its forms.

No further details of the operation were released, such as whether it will nationwide or focused on northwestern and southwestern Pakistan.

Following a surge in attacks since the Taliban’s recapture of Afghanistan in 2021, Islamabad has been calling on Kabul not to allow militant groups to use its soil as a launch pad to attack Pakistani security forces.

North Waziristan, South Waziristan, and the Khyber district – once dubbed the heartland of militancy – are among seven former semi-autonomous tribal districts in the country where the army has mounted a series of operations since 2014 to eliminate the TTP.

Successive operations pushed the TTP towards neighboring Afghanistan, and Islamabad claims the terrorist network has now set up bases across the border to attack Pakistani security forces.

Pakistan is believed to have a degree of influence over the Taliban.

However, despite Islamabad’s hopes for a further decrease in attacks from border areas following the Taliban retaking control of Kabul, the army has still been facing a series of deadly attacks.

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