Pakistani Taliban claim attack that killed 11 soldiers
ISLAMABAD - The Associated Press
The Pakistani Taliban responsibility claimed on Feb. 4 for a suicide attack the day before that killed 11 soldiers and wounded 13 in the Swat Valley.
Authorities say the attack on Feb. 3 was the first in over three years in the northwestern region once ruled by militants.
In a statement sent to media, the extremist group said a lone suicide bomber carried out the attack to avenge the killing and arrests of fellow militants. The bomber detonated his explosives vest near an empty lot where soldiers were playing volleyball.
Islamic militants ruled the picturesque Swat Valley from 2007 until a massive military operation routed them in 2009. Pakistan says militants who escaped from Swat and elsewhere are now operating out of the Kunar province in neighboring Afghanistan.
An Afghan official says Pakistani forces shelled Kunar for several hours starting late Saturday, wounding at least four civilians. Faredullah Dehqan, spokesman for the provincial police chief in Kunar, said more than 180 artillery rounds were fired overnight.
There was no immediate comment from Pakistan, and it was not clear if the shelling was linked to the Feb. 3 attack.
Turkey condemned the attack.
“We strongly condemn this heinous terrorist attack. We wish Allah’s mercy upon those who lost their lives, speedy recovery to the wounded, and convey our condolences to the brotherly Government and people of Pakistan,” Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a written statement.