'Taliban' suicide bomber kills two in NW Pakistan
Peshawar (Pakistan) (AFP) - A suicide bomber struck a vehicle carrying paramilitary troops in Pakistan's northwest on Monday, killing two soldiers and wounding eight other people in an attack claimed by the Taliban.
The attack on the Frontier Corps (FC) took place in the upscale Hayatabad area of Peshawar, the capital of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The blast came a day after the Pakistani military said it had launched a fresh ground operation in a valley in the northwest, part of an offensive that began last November to clear the militancy-racked area.
Local senior police official Imran Malik, whi gave the death toll, said four civilians were among the eight injured.
The Frontier Corps, which is part of the army, specialises in operations along the border with Afghanistan.
Another senior police official, Sajjad Khan, confirmed the attack and casualties, which the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP, or Pakistani Taliban) claimed in a statement.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif condemned the attack, directing authorities to hunt down the perpetrators and adding they deserve "no mercy".
Peshawar, which has suffered for years from militant assaults, was the scene of Pakistan's deadliest-ever attack -- a Taliban assault on an army-run school in 2014 that left more than 150 people dead, most of them children.
Violence has declined in recent years following a series of military offensives against insurgents along the northwestern border.
But the remnants of militant groups are still able to carry out periodic bloody attacks, particularly in the northwest.
On Sunday the military announced the new ground operation in the Rajgal Valley in Khyber Agency, one of the seven semi-autonomous tribal regions along the border with Afghanistan.
The offensive is part of Operation Radd-ul-Fassad, which was launched after a wave of attacks across the country in February.
A military spokesman said the operation, aimed at preventing Islamic State militants from crossing into Pakistan from Afghanistan as well as targeting members of the Pakistani Taliban, would be "difficult".
He said some 500 families had been evacuated from the area before the operation, and Afghan and NATO forces across the border had been notified.