Pakistan army launches operations targeting Taliban and separatists

Response comes after six soldiers died in attacks near Afghanistan border

A Pakistani security official stands guard after a bomb blast in Quetta, Pakistan. EPA
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Pakistani soldiers were searching for members of the country's branch of the Taliban and Baloch separatists on Monday, after six soldiers died in attacks.

The operation comes five days after security forces freed hostages being held following a prison break. Pakistan is currently fighting against two insurgencies targeting Baloch separatists who are active in an area where a recent roadside bombing killed five soldiers.

Pakistan’s branch of the Taliban, known as Tehreek-e-Taliban-Pakistan, has been active since around 2007, often co-operating with its Afghan parent organisation across the border.

The group has been emboldened following the fall of the former Afghan government in August 2021.

Attacks against foreigners, including Chinese workers and diplomats, have increased in northern Pakistan, alongside an uptick in attacks against security forces.

Last week, 33 people died when an operation was launched to free security officials being held in a counterterrorism centre in Bannu, north-west Pakistan. Two of the dead were commandos involved in the rescue attempt.

Abdul Aziz Uqaili, the top government official in the south-western Balochistan province, said there were of nine attacks in the province on Sunday. No civilians were killed, he tweeted. Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif condemned the violence.

Earlier, the military said five soldiers, including an army captain, were killed when a roadside bomb exploded near a security forces vehicle during a clearance operation in Kahan, a remote area in Balochistan bordering Afghanistan. No militant group has claimed responsibility for the bombing.

The sixth soldier was killed in a shoot-out with the Pakistani Taliban in the Sambaza area of Zhob district, said Azfar Mohesar, a senior police official. A militant was also killed in the shoot-out, he said.

In the provincial capital of Quetta, 12 people were wounded when assailants threw a grenade in a bazaar near a residential area, Mr Mohesar added. Elsewhere in Balochistan, five people were wounded in attacks in the towns of Kalat, Khuzdar and Hub.

Updated: December 26, 2022, 10:26 AM