The Times West Virginian

Breaking News

Headline News

February 3, 2013

23 are killed in attack on Pakistan army post

PESHAWAR, Pakistan — Taliban militants wearing suicide vests fired automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades at an army post in northwestern Pakistan in a pre-dawn raid Saturday, killing 23 people, including 10 civilians, officials said.

Twelve attackers also were killed in the assault.

The raid came a day after a suicide bombing at a Shiite Muslim mosque elsewhere in the northwest that killed 30 people, police said. The blast at the mosque was the latest in a rising number of sectarian attacks in the country.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for both attacks. The group has been waging a bloody insurgency against the government for years and sometimes targets the country’s minority Shiites.

The Taliban and allied militant groups have stepped up the pace of attacks in Pakistan in recent months, an indication of their strength despite numerous army operations against their strongholds in the northwest.

The raid on the army post in Serai Naurang town of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province began around 3:45 a.m. local time and lasted for several hours, said senior police officer Arif Khan Wazir. The militants fired automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades, he said.

Two security officials said the militants killed 10 civilians, including three women and three children, in a nearby house. In addition to the civilians, nine soldiers; four members of the Frontier Constabulary, a force that polices parts of northwestern Pakistan; and 12 attackers also were killed in the fighting.

Both officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan claimed responsibility for the attack in a telephone call to The Associated Press from an undisclosed location. He said four suicide bombers were involved in the attack. He said that three of them were killed and the fourth was still resisting as of his call at around 9:20 a.m. local time.

Ahsan said the attack was in retaliation for the recent deaths of two Taliban commanders in U.S. drone strikes. He accused the Pakistani army of helping with the attacks.  Pakistani officials often criticize drone operations as a violation of the country’s sovereignty, but are known to have assisted some U.S. strikes in the past.

A police official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to brief the media, said he saw the bodies of three attackers with their suicide vests intact. Their features suggested they belonged to a group of Uzbek militants allied with the Taliban, he said.

He said other attackers detonated their explosives during the battle with security forces — one inside the house where civilians were killed. He did not say if this caused the civilian deaths.

The attack on the mosque Friday took place in Hangu town, also in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The town has experienced previous clashes between the Sunni and Shiite communities there.  

Six people wounded in the bombing died on Saturday, raising the death toll to 30, said local political official Tahir Zafar Abbasi.

Shiites in Pakistan have increasingly been targeted by radical Sunnis who consider them heretics, and 2012 was the bloodiest year for the minority sect in the country’s history.  According to Human Rights Watch, more than 400 Shiites were killed in targeted attacks in Pakistan last year.

The Taliban are battling the Pakistani government because of its alliance with the United States and because it wants to impose Islamic law in the country. Pakistani’s military has launched operations against the Taliban in many of their sanctuaries in the semiautonomous tribal region along the Afghan border.

But one major area remains: North Waziristan, the main stronghold for Taliban and al-Qaida militants in the country. The army has resisted launching an operation there, despite intense U.S. pressure, for fear of a backlash from militants who so far have directed their attacks against U.S.-led troops in Afghanistan rather than inside Pakistan.

It’s unclear whether the recent surge of attacks in Pakistan will alter the army’s calculation. There also have been calls from some political leaders to hold talks with the Taliban in an attempt to end the violence. But others believe it is not possible to reason with the Taliban or trust them, and that the best option is to try to battle them into submission.

Also Saturday, a bomb exploded during a search of a compound in Ghunda Mela area of Orakzai tribal region, killing an army officer and a soldier and injuring two soldiers, according to a military statement. Orakzai is one of the tribal regions where Pakistan army is carrying out massive operations against Islamist militants.

———

Associated Press writers Ishtiaq Mahsud in Dera Ismail Khan and Zarar Khan in Islamabad contributed to this report.

 

1
Text Only
Headline News
  • Obama voices skepticism on Russia in Ukraine

    President Barack Obama conveyed skepticism Thursday about Russian promises to de-escalate a volatile situation in Ukraine, and said the United State and its allies are ready to impose fresh sanctions if Moscow doesn’t make good on its commitments.

    April 18, 2014

  • President defending health-care law good for some Democrats

    President Barack Obama’s full-throated defense of his health-care overhaul seems perfectly timed for Democrats who want their party to embrace the law more enthusiastically.
    At a White House news conference Thursday, Obama noted that health insurance enrollments under the new law are higher than expected, and costs are lower.

    April 18, 2014

  • Deal reached on calming Ukraine tensions — for now

    In a surprise accord, Ukraine and Russia agreed Thursday on tentative steps to halt violence and calm tensions along their shared border after more than a month of Cold War-style military posturing triggered by Moscow’s annexation of Crimea.

    April 18, 2014

  • Boston Marathon organizers confident of safe race

    The arrest of a man with a rice cooker in his backpack near the Boston Marathon finish line led police to step up patrols Wednesday, while organizers sought to assure the city and runners of a safe race next week.
    The actions of the man, whose mother said he had a mental disorder, rattled nerves as Boston prepared for the annual race, but authorities said they did not consider it a security breach.

    April 17, 2014

  • Screen Shot 2014-04-16 at 12.51.22 PM.png VIDEO: Toddler climbs into vending machine

    A child is safe after climbing into and getting stuck inside a claw crane machine at a Lincoln, Neb., bowling alley Monday.

    April 16, 2014 1 Photo

  • Solemn tributes mark Boston Marathon bombing anniversary

    Survivors, first responders and relatives of those killed in the Boston Marathon bombing marked the anniversary Tuesday with tributes that combined sorrow over the loss of innocent victims with pride over the city’s resilience in the face of a terror attack.

    April 16, 2014

  • Questions linger year after Boston Marathon bombs

    A surveillance video shows a man prosecutors say is Dzhokhar Tsarnaev placing a bomb near the finish line of the Boston Marathon, just yards from where an 8-year-old boy was killed when it exploded.

    April 15, 2014

  • Little sign of progress as Obama, Putin speak

    Speaking for the first time in more than two weeks, President Barack Obama and Russian President Vladimir Putin showed little sign of agreement Monday, with the U.S. leader urging pro-Russian forces to de-escalate the situation in eastern Ukraine and Putin denying that Moscow was interfering in the region.

    April 15, 2014

  • 3 dead after suburban Kansas City shooting

    A man opened fire outside a Jewish community center on Sunday, killing two people before driving over to a retirement community a few blocks away and killing someone else, authorities said.

    April 14, 2014

  • Couple: Truck was on fire before deadly bus crash

    A couple said a FedEx tractor-trailer was already on fire when it careened across a median, sideswiped their car and slammed into a bus carrying high school students, adding a new twist to the investigation of a crash that killed 10 people.
    Initial reports by police indicated the truck swerved to avoid a sedan that was traveling in the same direction in this town about 100 miles north of Sacramento, then went across the median. There was no mention of the truck being on fire.

    April 13, 2014

House Ads
Featured Ads