News / Asia

    Blast Kills 9 Soldiers in Northwest Pakistan

    VOA News
    A roadside bomb in Pakistan's northwest has killed at least nine paramilitary soldiers.

    Pakistani authorities said Thursday's blast in the North Waziristan tribal agency was "planted by terrorists."  Several other soldiers traveling in the convoy were wounded in the attack, which took place in the village of Ghulamkhan near the Afghan border.
     
    Local officials say the army has sent helicopters to the region to target suspected militant hideouts.

    No one has claimed responsibility for the blast. The area is a stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban.  

    The attack comes just weeks after the al-Qaida-linked militant group formally ended a cease-fire with the Pakistani government. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif came to office pledging to negotiate peace with the Pakistani Taliban but talks with the militant group that began in February stalled.

    The Pakistani military says during a meeting with army chief General Raheel Sharif Thursday, Prime Minister Sharif expressed grief over the attack and said "the sacrifices by our patriotic soldiers will not go in vain."

    The military says another soldier was killed in a separate attack Thursday on a checkpoint in South Waziristan tribal agency.

    Also Thursday, Pakistan said it successfully test-fired a surface-to-surface ballistic missile, capable of carrying nuclear and conventional warheads up to a range of 290 kilometers.

    The military says General Sharif witnessed the launch, reiterating that "the armed forces of Pakistan are fully capable of safeguarding Pakistan's security against any aggression."

    Pakistan and its arch-rival and neighbor India, which is also nuclear armed, routinely test their missiles and generally notify each other about test dates.  

    The two countries have fought three wars since they gained independence from Britain in 1947.

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