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7 soldiers killed in a suicide truck bombing and shootout in northwest Pakistan

PESHAWAR, Pakistan (AP) — A suicide bomber rammed his explosive-laden truck into a sprawling military post in northwest Pakistan on Saturday, the military and security officials said. At least seven soldiers were killed in the bombing and ensuing shootout.

Troops responding to the attack in North Waziristan, a district in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province that borders Afghanistan, killed six more attackers, some of whom were wearing suicide vests, the military said.

A newly formed militant group, Jaish-e-Fursan-e-Muhammad, claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement.

The military said a portion of a military post collapsed. It said five soldiers died in the truck bombing and two officers in the shootout that followed.

A clearance operation is still underway in the area, it said, adding that the “security forces of Pakistan are determined to wipe out the menace of terrorism from the country and such sacrifices of our brave soldiers further strengthen our resolve.”

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif condemned the attack and paid tribute to the troops who were “martyred” in the attack.

North Waziristan long served as a base for the Pakistani Taliban and other militant groups until the army claimed a few years back that it had cleared the region of insurgents.

Occasional attacks have continued, however, raising concerns that the Pakistani Taliban are regrouping in the area. The Pakistani Taliban are a separate group but allies of the Afghan Taliban, who seized power in Afghanistan in 2021 as the U.S. and NATO troops were in the final stages of their pullout.

Since then the Pakistani Taliban have stepped up attacks on security forces, especially in the northwest.