Islamabad: At least 11 soldiers, including an army captain, were killed and 13 others were injured Saturday when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives at a highly guarded army base in northern Pakistan, officials said.
The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, one of the deadliest against the military in recent years. The powerful explosion, which rocked the surrounding area, occurred in the Kabal region of Swat, a picturesque valley in the northern part of the country.
This was the first major terrorist attack in Swat, once a Taliban stronghold, in the past five years, local residents said. The Pakistani military wrested the region from the Taliban in 2009 and has maintained a heavy presence.
The suicide bomber struck Saturday evening while the soldiers were playing volleyball after duty. Officials said they imposed a curfew, cordoned off most local roads and searched for accomplices in the aftermath.
The most recent suicide bombing in Swat took place in 2013, when 22 people were killed at a religious congregation.
The Pakistani Taliban are led by Maulana Fazlullah, who comes from Swat and led militants in the region before assuming leadership of the group. Mr. Fazlullah escaped to Afghanistan after the 2009 military operation, and Pakistani military officials say he is hiding in Kunar Province of Afghanistan. Pakistan has made several requests to the Afghan government to track down and arrest Mr. Fazlullah.
Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi condemned Saturday’s attack. “No cowardly attack can deter us in pursuing our struggle against the menace of terrorism to its logical conclusion,” Mr. Abbasi said in a statement. “We will continue our fight till the last trace is rooted out.”