IS-Claimed Suicide Blast Inflicts Heavy Casualties on Pakistan Security Forces

Authorities in Pakistan said Tuesday at least five members of the security forces were killed and up to 30 were injured when a suicide bomber blew himself up near a high-profile government convoy in southwestern Baluchistan province.

Islamic State took responsibility for the deadly attack Tuesday in the town of Sibi, the second suicide bombing carried out by the terrorist group in less than a week.

The bomber detonated his explosives on a Sibi road, just minutes after Pakistan President Arif Alvi’s cavalcade had driven past it, according to local security officials. It was not immediately known whether the president was the target.

Alvi was returning from an annual cultural festival in a nearby open area where he delivered a nationally televised speech in which he talked about a recent spike in terrorist attacks in Baluchistan and elsewhere in Pakistan.

“We understand that some more (sophisticated) weapons have fallen into the hands of terrorists following the (military) withdrawal of the United States (from Afghanistan),” the president said in the speech without elaborating.

Alvi told the local DAWN news channel last month that “the withdrawal of foreign troops from the war-torn neighboring country “has led to a situation where weapons such as night-vision goggles and guns have reached the terrorists” who are waging cross-border attacks against Pakistan.

On Friday, a suicide bomber blew himself up inside a packed minority Shiite Muslim mosque in Peshawar, the capital of Pakistan’s northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The ensuing powerful blast killed 63 worshippers and injured nearly 200 others. Islamic State took responsibility for the bombing, saying one of its Afghan members carried it out.

Meanwhile, the Pakistan military said Tuesday its forces had raided a suspected terrorist hideout in Baluchistan’s Turbat district and the ensuing heavy firefight killed “7 terrorists,” including two key commanders. The raid also seized “a significant cache of arms and ammunition,” it said.

Ethnic Baluch insurgents also routinely stage attacks on civilians and Pakistani security forces in the province. Last month, the insurgents killed at least 19 soldiers in separate attacks.

Baluchistan, a natural resource-rich region, and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa border Afghanistan, where the regional affiliate of Islamic State, IS-Khorasan, has its bases.

Fugitive leaders and fighters of the outlawed Pakistani Taliban also have taken refuge on the Afghan side after fleeing security operations in Pakistan. Officials in Islamabad say the militant outfit plots cross-border attacks from its Afghan sanctuaries.

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