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January 14, 2013

17 soldiers killed, 22 injured in NWA IED attack

 
January 14, 2013

MIRANSHAH/PESHAWAR: Unknown miscreants on Sunday attacked a military convoy in the volatile North Waziristan tribal region with an improvised explosive device (IED), killing 17 soldiers and injuring 22 others.
The military convoy was on its way to Bannu district from Razmak subdivision in North Waziristan when it came under attack.
The attack took place only a day after Pakistani Taliban leader Hakimullah Mehsud asked his fighters to refrain from attacking the Pakistani security forces and government installations in North Waziristan and abide by the peace accord signed between the government and regional Taliban led by Hafiz Gul Bahadur.
No militant group appeared to claim responsibility for the attack on soldiers, though military authorities and government officials blamed anti-Pakistan militant organisations opposed to restoration of peace in North Waziristan for the attack.
Military officials said there was no traffic on roads in the entire North Waziristan tribal region on Sunday as the local administration had already clamped a curfew due to the movement of security forces in the tribal region.
They said unknown people planted an IED on the Miranshah-Razmak Road, which went off when the military convoy passed through the mountainous Narray Wala area. Some government officials in Razmak subdivision said two heavy military trucks were damaged in the blast.
They said one of the trucks carrying over two dozen soldiers plunged into 1,000-foot-deep ravine after being hit by the IED. They said most of the soldiers died when the truck fell into the ravine.
Military officials said it took them enough time to make arrangements for pulling out the bodies and injured soldiers from the ravine to the main road and shift them to hospital.
Later, after hours of hectic efforts, the troops managed to recover the bodies and injured soldiers from the ditch before the dark. Most of the injured were airlifted and admitted to military hospitals in Bannu and

Peshawar.
Military sources feared that the death toll could further increase as majority of the injured soldiers were in a critical condition.
An official of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said 14 soldiers were killed and 22 others injured in the IED blast on the military convoy.
There were also reports that the Pakistan Army gunship helicopters pounded some suspected hideouts of militants in Razmak and Mir Ali after the attack on the military convoy, but neither the military officials, local tribesmen or government officials confirmed these reports.
“We saw some army helicopters in the air after the attack but the choppers did not carry out shelling. Some helicopters were used for transporting the bodies and injured soldiers to Bannu and Miranshah while the gunship helicopters provided cover to the military convoy travelling on the Bannu-Miranshah Road after the attack,” a government official based in Miranshah said.
He, however, said that curfew had been extended till further orders in the entire North Waziristan Agency following the attack on the military convoy.
The government and military authorities did not expect any such incident in the tribal region after the TTP leader Hakimullah Mehsud asked his fighters to abide by the peace accord signed between the government and local Taliban in North Waziristan.
The government officials said there were either some elements within the TTP who did not want peace to prevail in NWA or there could be some foreign hand behind destabilising the tribal region by creating mistrust between the tribesmen and armed forces.
One of the officials in Miranshah said that even the military officials were happy with the peace initiative by the TTP militants and they relaxed the curfew duration for the local tribesmen three times on Sunday on the Miranshah-Dattakhel Road when the local people had to take women to hospital for delivery. “Nobody expected the attack on Pakistani forces and then no one had an idea the troops would suffer so much casualties,” a government official said on condition of anonymity.
The militants affiliated with Hakimullah Mehsud on Saturday issued a pamphlet, in which the TTP leader directed his men to abide by the peace agreement between the local Taliban and the government for the maintenance of law and order in NWA. The TTP spokesman, Ihsanullah Ihsan, also called The News from an undisclosed location and confirmed the announcement of Hakimullah Mehsud.
“O Mujahideen brothers! As you know that the Pakistani and Afghan Taliban under the leadership of Mullah Mohammad Omar Mujahid are engaged in Jihad against the crusaders and infidels, and are supporters of each other in the ongoing holy war, the enemies do not want to see us united and disciplined against them and are being trying to divide us,” Hakimullah Mehsud stated in the pamphlet.
Agencies add: Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf and Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif strongly condemned the attack on a military convoy in North Waziristan.
In their separate statements, they prayed that Almighty Allah rest the departed souls in eternal peace and grant courage to the bereaved families to bear the loss with equanimity.