South Asia

Five militants near Afghan border, Pakistan army says

File Photo.

The Pakistani military reported Saturday that its forces had killed five militants, including a key commander, during a raid on a hideout in North Waziristan, a volatile district bordering Afghanistan.

The overnight operation, described as “intelligence-based,” occurred in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The army’s media wing, issued a statement about the operation but did not specify the militant group involved.

However, Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) claimed that its hideout was targeted and confirmed the deaths of four of its members. In a statement sent to journalists, the TTP also claimed to have inflicted heavy casualties on the military.

Northwestern Pakistan, particularly Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, has witnessed deadly militant attacks, primarily targeting security personnel. Most of these attacks have been claimed by or attributed to the TTP.

The provincial counterterrorism department’s annual report on Friday indicated that militant attacks in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa this year resulted in the deaths of 185 police officers and injuries to 400 others. It also claimed that security forces killed 300 militants and captured over 900 during the same period.

Additionally, Baluchistan province, which also borders Afghanistan, has experienced an increase in attacks by the TTP and ethnic Baluch insurgents, resulting in numerous civilian and security force casualties.

The Pakistani military has reported nearly 300 officer and soldier deaths in 2023 due to nationwide militant attacks and counterinsurgency operations. Earlier this month, a militant raid on an army base resulted in at least 23 soldier deaths, marking Pakistan’s deadliest recent attack.

Authorities allege that the TTP, designated as a global terrorist group by the United States, and its allies are orchestrating the violence from safe havens in Afghanistan.

Since the Taliban’s return to power in Afghanistan two years ago, Islamabad has claimed a significant rise in cross-border terrorism. The Taliban, however, denies accusations of harboring militants or allowing attacks against Pakistan or other countries from Afghan territory.