The Taliban claimed credit for today’s deadly suicide assault on a Pakistani military checkpoint in the northwestern district of Lakki Markat. The Taliban claimed the attack was carried out to avenge the deaths of commanders who were killed in recent US drone strikes in Pakistan’s Taliban-controlled tribal areas.
The heavily-armed suicide assault team stormed a military checkpoint in the Serai Naurang area of Lakki Marwat district. Thirteen Pakistani military personnel, 11 civilians, and 12 Taliban fighters are reported to have been killed during the heavy fighting, according to Dawn. The civilians are said to have died after the suicide bomber ran into a home during the fighting and detonated his vest, killing 10 members of a family, including three children.
Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan claimed the attack, but denied that 12 of his fighters were killed. Ihsan said the attack was executed to avenge the deaths of two senior Movement of the Taliban commanders, Faisal Khan and Toofani, who were killed in drone strikes in early January.
“We sent only four suicide bombers to attack this checkpost. We attacked it to avenge the killing of two of our friends in a recent drone strike,” Ihsan told AFP.
“Pakistan has been co-operating with the US in its drone strikes that killed our two senior commanders, Faisal Khan and Toofani, and the attack on military camp was the revenge of their killing,” Ihsan also said, according to Reuters.
Toofani, who was also known as Wali Mohammed, is said to have directed suicide operations for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan. He was killed in a US drone strike in South Waziristan on Jan. 6.
Faisal Khan, who was said to be a senior commander in the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, was killed in a US drone strike along with two Uzbek fighters in the Mir Ali area of North Waziristan on Jan. 3.
The US has carried out seven drone strikes in Pakistan so far this year. The last recorded strike took place on Jan. 10. In addition to Toofani and Khan, the US killed Mullah Nazir, the head of the Taliban in the Wazir areas of South Waziristan. Although Nazir’s group is not part of the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, it shelters the group as well as al Qaeda and other terrorist organizations.