Roadside bomb kills two soldiers in NW Pakistan

ISLAMABAD (AP) – A roadside bomb exploded in northwest Pakistan, killing two soldiers who were traveling in their vehicle, the military said. The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.

The banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan gave a higher death toll in Saturday’s attack in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, saying eight soldiers died. There was no immediate explanation for the discrepancy.

The TTP also claimed responsibility for a hand grenade attack on a police van in the Swabi area of the province that killed a police officer and injured two others on Saturday.

Pakistan is witnessing increased attacks on security forces after the militant TTP ended a cease-fire with the government last November. To counter the wave of violence, the government said Friday it will carry out a massive anti-terrorist operation across the country within the coming weeks.

The National Security Committee, comprising the prime minister and the military’s top brass, agreed to re-launch the operation this month under a national action plan.

The plan involves military and intelligence operations, death sentences for militants, setting up special military courts for trials, and the deployment of anti-extremist forces in vulnerable areas.

A previous counter-extremist plan was launched in 2014 after a school massacre in Peshawar, where the TTP gunned down over 140 people, including 132 children.

The Pakistani Taliban are a separate group from the Afghan Taliban, although Pakistan’s militant groups are often interlinked with those across the border.

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