At least 23 people were killed in a suicide bombing at a Pakistani army base on December 12, 2023, an official said in an attack claimed by militants affiliated with Pakistan Taliban. The early morning attack targeted a base in Dera Ghazi Khan district near the border with Afghanistan in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, according to a local official who spoke in the name of anonymity.
“Many of them were killed while they were sleeping and in civilian robes, so we are still determining if they all are military personnel, the official added. An additional twenty-seven people when the explosive-laden vehicle detonated at a school building which had been commandeered as a makeshift military base still he added. Three rooms were collapsed and efforts were underway to pull the bodies from the ruins, with fears the toll could rise further. The Pakistani Army has not yet commented on the incident.
Attacks on Pakistani Military Targets
Pakistan has witnessed a dramatic spike in militant attacks mainly in its border regions with Afghanistan since the Taliban returned to power there in 2021. According to analysts, the Islamist State Fighters have been emboldened by the neighboring insurgency following the withdrawal of the US Forces in 2021. The first half of 2023 saw nearly an 80 percent spike in attacks compared to last year according to the Pakistan Institute of Conflict and Security Studies.
Islamabad alleges that hostile groups operate from sanctuaries across the border, a charge the Taliban government routinely denies. The biggest threat to Pakistan comes in its domestic chapter of the Taliban known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) which hares lineage and ideology with Kabul’s rulers.
In January 2023, the TTP was linked to a mosque bombing that killed more than 80 police officers inside the headquarters in the northwestern city of Peshawar, the capital of Khyber-Pakhtunkhwa province. Islamabad said four troops were killed in September during a cross-border raid by “hundreds” of TTP fighters in Chitral, an area popular with domestic tourists.
Tehreek-Jihad Pakistan, a new group affiliated with the Pakistan Taliban, said the assault began around 2:30 AM with a martyrdom attack by one fighter before the others survived and stormed the compound. This group was formed in February 2023, and it is inspired by the Sheikh-ul-Hind. reference to the third principal of Darul Uloom Deoband, a religious seminary in Deoband, in northern India’s Uttar Pradesh state.