The Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) killed nine soldiers in a suicide bombing in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province on Thursday.
Five soldiers were also wounded in the attack, the latest in the long line of deadly attacks from the TTP in Pakistan's restive northwest and elsewhere. The TTP took responsibility for the attack.
The TTP, also commonly called Pakistan Taliban, is an outlawed organisation which was holding talks with the Pakistani government last year. For months, the two sides negotiated and observed a ceasefire. The talks, however, fell apart and TTP announced a new offensive in November. Since then, hundreds have been killed in TTP attacks.
The Pakistani military in a statement said that the TTP bomber on bike rammed into a military convoy on Thursday in the Bannu district of the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, killing nine soldiers and injuring five others.
Following the bombing, law enforcement personnel rushed to the blast site and cordoned off the entire area, said the statement, adidng that a massive search operation was launched to arrest the perpetrators.
Caretaker Prime Minister Anwaarul Haq Kakar condemned the attack on Twitter and called such attacks "utterly reprehensible" and said his thoughts were with the families of those killed and injured.
What is Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan?
Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also called Pakistan Taliban commonly, is an unmbrella group of militant organisations active in the Afghanistan-Pakistan region.
The group was formed in 2007 to unify opposition to the Pakistan military and government in the region. The group is committed to the establishment of a hardliner Islamic state in Pakistan run on Islamic law Sharia. The Feederally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) and neighboring Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province are major areas of focus of TTP.
TTP’s stated objectives are the expulsion of Islamabad’s influence in FATA and neighboring Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Province in Pakistan; the implementation of a strict interpretation of Sharia throughout Pakistan; and the establishment of an Islamic caliphate in Pakistan that would require the overthrow of the Pakistani government, according to the US National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC).
The think tank Counter Extremism Project (CEP) notes that TTP has had close links with the Afghan Taliban and terrorist group Al Qaeda.
"The TTP’s founding leadership and rank and file had spent the decade preceding the group’s formation fighting alongside both al-Qaeda and the Afghan Taliban in Afghanistan, and the tribal militants who would later form the TTP harbored al-Qaeda members in Pakistan following the 2001 invasion of Afghanistan," notes CEP.
Earlier on January 30, a TTP suicide bomber blew himself at a mosque in Peshawar, killing 101 and injuring over 200. Most of those killed were police personnel, including at least one deputy superintendent of police (DSP), five sub-inspectors (SIs), and the mosque's prayer leader.
Recently, Pakistan has been hit by a wave of terrorist activities orchestrated by the outlawed terror outfit.
The TTP was set up as an umbrella group of several militant outfits in 2007.
Last month, two policemen were killed and as many injured when TTP militants attacked a police checkpoint in the country's restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
On January 30, a Pakistan Taliban suicide bomber blew himself up during the afternoon prayers in a mosque in Peshawar, killing 101 people and injuring more than 200 others.
Overall, Pakistan witnessed 18 suicide attacks in the first seven months of 2023, which is significantly more than last year when there were 15 attacks in the entire year, according to a report from the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS). Notably, the report did not include attacks just by TTP but by all the groups active in the country