6 Pak troops killed in IED attack in North Waziristan

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QUETTA: Six Pakistan Army personnel were martyred in a “terrorist” bomb attack near Razmak area of North Waziristan tribal district, the military’s media wing said on Thursday. It said a convoy of security forces was attacked through an improvised explosive device (IED), resulting in the martyrdom of one officer and five soldiers.

The martyred personnel were identified by the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) as Capt Umar Farooq, aged 24 years; Naib Subedar Riaz Ahmed, aged 37 years; Naib Subedar Shakeel Azad, aged 44; Havaldar Younas Khan, 36; Naik Muhammad Nadeem, 37; and Lance Naik Asmat Ullah, aged 30 years.

‘Encounters’ between sec­u­rity forces and militants have frequently been taking place in North Waziristan. Secu­rity forces have killed several suspected hardcore terrorists in recent clashes. The latest incident comes four days after two soldiers were martyred and three others sustained injuries in an attack on a security post in Shawal valley of North Waziristan.

Officials said militants attacked the post in the Manra Mendara area adjacent to South Waziristan district. They said militants fired rockets in the pre-dawn attack on the post which left two soldiers martyred and three others wounded.

Last month, security forces had killed four terrorists, including militant commander Ihsanullah alias Ihsan Sanray, in an intelligence-based operation (IBO) in what was termed as a “major breakthrough” by the ISPR. The operation was carried out in Ghariom, Shaktu, near the inter-district boundary of North and South Waziristan.

That IBO had come days after wanted terrorist Waseem Zakeria was killed during an intelligence operation in North Waziristan along with four accomplices. Ten terrorists were also arrested during the operation near Mirali, the ISPR had said at the time. It said Zakeria was the mastermind of 30 attacks, including the targeted killing of government officials and security forces personnel.

Zakeria was also believed to be involved in the assassination of Zubaidullah Khan, a CSP officer of the Federal Information Group, posted as director of the Pakistan Housing Authority in Islamabad.

The killing of the senior civil officer in Mirali had raised concerns about the state of security in once-volatile North Waziristan which has seen an uptick in attacks on security forces since the Zarb-i-Azb operation in June 2014. A lawmaker from the tribal district had told the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Assembly in September that 200 people had lost their lives to targeted killings since February 2018. There was, however, no official corroboration or denial of the claim by the lawmaker.