x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Suicide bomber kills 8 troops in Pakistan

A suicide bomber rammed his vehicle into a group of paramilitary officers near the Afghan border, says an army spokesman.

WANA, PAKISTAN // A suicide bomber has rammed a car into a Pakistani paramilitary check post in the South Waziristan region, killing eight soldiers, the military said. The attack near the Afghan border came two days after suspected US missile strikes in the ethnic Pashtun tribal regions of South and North Waziristan killed about 20 people, including militants. The attack was on a check post of the paramilitary Frontier Corps (FC), about 35km west of Wana, the main town in the region which is a sanctuary for al Qa'eda and Taliban militants.

"It was suicide attack. The bomber drove his explosive-laden into the FC check post," said Maj Gen Athar Abbas, a military spokesman, referring to the paramilitary Frontier Corps. "We have confirmed reports of eight deaths," he said. Mounting violence in nuclear-armed Pakistan has raised concern about prospects for the important US ally whose help is seen as vital in stabilising neighbouring Afghanistan. The violence has also unnerved investors, compounding an economic crisis that looks set to force the country to agree to International Monetary Fund help. Pakistani Taliban militants yesterday threatened to carry out attacks in response to missile strikes by US drone aircraft. Frustrated by an intensifying insurgency in Afghanistan, US forces have carried out about 15 missile strikes and one ground troop incursion into Pakistan since the beginning of September. A midlevel al Qa'eda leader, identified as the Iraqi Abdur Rehman, who was also known as Abu Akash, was believed to be was among up to 20 people killed in a strike in North Waziristan on Friday, intelligence agency officials said. A short time later, one person was killed and one wounded in a missile strike in Wana. A Pakistani Taliban commander, Maulvi Mohammad Nazir, was slightly hurt in that attack, an intelligence agency official said. Pakistan, which is also battling militants on its side of the border, strongly objects to the US strikes. It says the attacks are a violation of its sovereignty and undermine efforts to isolate the militants and rally public opinion behind the unpopular campaign against militancy. The government summoned the US ambassador last Wednesday to demand that the strikes be stopped. The United States has shrugged off Pakistani protests. It says the attacks are needed to protect US troops in Afghanistan and kill Taliban and al Qa'eda militants who threaten them. *Reuters