Tuesday, June 24, 2014 12:17 pm
BANNU (AFP) – A suicide bomber in a car killed at least two troops and a civilian on Tuesday in a Pakistani tribal area where the army has launched an offensive against Taliban militants.
The attacker detonated his bomb in Spinwam village of North Waziristan tribal district when he was intercepted on the approach to a checkpoint, officials said.
Pakistan’s armed forces have used jet fighters, tanks and artillery in the offensive, which began over a week ago, killing around 300 people they have described as militants, though the number and identity of the victims are impossible to verify.
“At least two soldiers and a civilian have embraced martyrdom,” a security official told AFP.
A military statement said that troops stopped the car suicide bomber 100 metres (yards) away from a checkpost near a hospital and the action averted major casualties.
The Ansar-ul-Mujahedin militant group claimed responsibility, with spokesman Abu Baseer saying it was the start of a counter-offensive against Pakistani troops by the Taliban.
“It is beginning of our offensive and we will launch attacks against government and local tribesmen if they form anti-Taliban force,” Baseer told AFP via telephone from an unknown location.
Meanwhile, Pakistani jets and helicopter gunships targeted militant hideouts at several place in North Waziristan, officials said.
The offensive has seen North Waziristan hit by more than a week of shelling and air raids, and more than 470,000 people have fled ahead of an impending ground assault, with many going to the nearby town of Bannu.