ISLAMABAD - At least 11 soldiers, including an army officer, have lost their lives and 13 others sustained injuries when an assailant detonated his explosive vest in Pakistan’s northern district of Swat, police say.
“The soldiers were playing volleyball in the evening outside the military base... when a … bomber managed to blow himself up,” said a local security official, speaking on condition of anonymity, on Saturday, shortly after the terrorist attack was carried out in Kabal area.
The outlawed militant group Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as Pakistani Taliban, in a statement claimed the responsibility for the deadly attack, threatening that Islamabad should “wait for more (attacks).”
Swat is a river valley and an administrative district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. It is locally known as the Switzerland of Pakistan and was once a TTP stronghold from 2007 to 2009, when the Pakistani army launched a large-scale operation against the militants in the picturesque valley, destroying their hideouts within two months.
According to officials, more than 2,000 Taliban militants have so far been driven out of the volatile region.
Pakistan’s Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi denounced the attack in a statement.
“No cowardly attack can deter us in pursuing our struggle against the menace of terrorism to its logical conclusion. We will continue our fight till the last trace is rooted out,” the prime minister said.
The last deadly attack conducted by TTP militants in Swat dates back to January 2013, when the militants targeted a religious center and killed 21 worshipers and wounded 70 others.
Despite frequent offensives by the Pakistani army, acts of terror by militants continue to target security forces as well as civilians.
Thousands of Pakistanis have lost their lives in bombings and other militant attacks since 2001, when Pakistan entered into an alliance with the United States in Washington’s so-called war on terror.
Thousands more have been displaced by the wave of violence and militancy sweeping the country.