ISLAMABAD (AP) — Pakistan's military on Sunday said two soldiers were killed in a shootout with militants during a search operation in the country’s northwest, a former militant stronghold.
The operation was conducted late Saturday in the Spalga area near Miranshah, the main town in North Waziristan in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan.
The area has served as a base for Pakistani and foreign militants until recent years, when the military claimed troops had cleared it.
Earlier this month, the Pakistani Taliban took responsibility for a powerful roadside bomb in northwestern Pakistan that targeted a military vehicle, killing three soldiers and wounding four.
That attack raised fears that the Pakistani Taliban were regrouping in the region. Also known as Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, they are a separate insurgent group from the Afghan Taliban, although Pakistan’s militant groups are often interlinked with those across the border in Afghanistan.
The Pakistani Taliban have been targeting the military and civilians across the country since 2001, when Pakistan, an Islamic nation, joined the U.S.-led war on terror following the Sept. 11 attacks in the U.S.
Since then, the insurgents have declared war on the government of Pakistan and have carried out numerous attacks, including a brutal assault on an army-run school in the city of Peshawar in 2014 that killed 140 children and several teachers.