By Saud Mehsud
DERAISMIALKHAN, Pakistan (Reuters) – At least 10 soldiers have been killed in separate attacks within hours on Pakistan security forces.
A military vehicle was ambushed and six soldiers killed in the country’s mountainous northern areas bordering Afghanistan on Saturday.
The military said in a statement that “terrorists from across the border” fired on a patrol near Gurbaz in the North Wazirstan region.
The attack came after four paramilitary officials patrolling in the restive southwestern Baluchistan province were killed on Friday in an ambush by unidentified militants, the military said.
Saturday’s ambush was claimed by the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), also known as the Pakistani Taliban, which is separate from the insurgent movement across the border in Afghanistan. No group has claimed responsibility for Friday’s attack.
“These are dying efforts of inimical forces while Pakistan moves from stability to enduring peace. It’s time for the world to facilitate regional peace,” the Pakistan military’s spokesman Maj. General Asif Ghafoor said on Twitter.
Pakistan and Afghanistan routinely accuse each other of harbouring militant groups that carry out attacks across the border.
Afghanistan accuses Pakistan of supporting the Taliban, a charge Pakistan denies, saying it has suffered heavily from the fighting.
The two attacks come days after a meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan which focused on Pakistan’s role in helping to broker a political settlement to end the nearly 18-year-old U.S. war in Afghanistan.
Pakistani forces have conducted a series of operations against militant groups including the Pakistani Taliban in the region North Waziristan over recent years. While officials say the area has largely been pacified, small scale attacks continue to take place.
Baluchistan is an important part of transport and energy projects that form part of China’s Belt and Road initiative, which has brought $57 billion of investment to Pakistan.
Balochistan is rife with ethnic, sectarian and separatist insurgencies, and a number of militant groups, including the TTP and the Balochistan Liberation Army, operate in the province.
“I salute our armed forces personnel who continue to lay down their lives fighting terrorists to keep the nation safe,” Khan said in a posting on Twitter.
(Additional reporting by Gul Yousafzai in Quetta; Writing by Saad Sayeed; Editing by Mike Harrison)