A suicide car bomber targeted a security checkpoint in northwestern Pakistan on Wednesday, killing two soldiers, a policeman, and a civilian, the military and security officials said.
It was the second militant attack to hit Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province in as many days.
The bombing happened in North Waziristan, a district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa that borders Afghanistan and is a former stronghold of the militant Pakistani Taliban group, also known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).
A number of civilians were also wounded in the attack, according to Rehmat Khan, a local police official.
The military in a statement also confirmed the car bombing and the casualties. It said the attacker wanted to target a nearby public gathering but security forces “prevented a major catastrophe” by immediately intercepting the car bomber.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack, but suspicion is likely to fall on the TTP.
Also on Wednesday, the TTP claimed responsibility for an attack the previous day on an oil and gas plant in Hangu, a district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, on the border with Afghanistan. Dozens of militants attacked the plant on Tuesday, killing four security troops and two private guards, officials said.
Oil production was temporarily suspended following the attack on the oil and gas extraction facility run by a multinational European company, MOL Pakistan Oil and Gas, in Hangu.
The company said the attackers never reached the facility itself but fought with the troops and guards outside.
“Production from the wells has been temporarily shut down by remote access and the wells are now secured,” the company said in a statement on Tuesday.
The attack triggered an intense shootout, according to the local police chief, Sawab Khan. He said a wide search was underway to apprehend the attackers, who fled the scene.
Though a separate group, the TTP remains a close ally to the Afghan Taliban, who took over Afghanistan in August 2021 following the withdrawal of U.S. and NATO forces from the country after two decades of war. The takeover some say has emboldened the TTP in Pakistan, as its fighters and leaders often take shelter across the border, in Afghanistan, straining relations between the two countries.
The TTP has stepped up attacks in recent months, after unilaterally ending a ceasefire with the Pakistani government in November. In response, Pakistan has ramped up security operations targeting the group.
Pakistani security forces killed six militants in a raid on their hideout in South Waziristan, a district also bordering Afghanistan, the military said Wednesday. It did not provide any details about the slain insurgents, but such operations are usually carried out against the TTP.