A roadside bomb killed nine Pakistani paramilitary soldiers Thursday tribal region near the Afghan border, authorities said.
A bomb “planted by terrorists” near the town of Miran Shah in North Waziristan also wounded several soldiers traveling in a convoy, the army said in a statement.
Shortly after the attack, the army sent helicopters to the region which targeted suspected militant hideouts, but it was unclear if there were any casualties, two intelligence officials said. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to journalists.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the blast, but the suspicion is likely to fall on a mix of militants from Pakistani and al-Qaida-linked foreign outfits, which have safe havens there.
The Pakistani army has been fighting against militants in the country’s restive and lawless tribal region for over a decade, though it hasn’t launched an offensive in North Waziristan.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif has made negotiations with the militants a centerpiece of his government to end the violence which has killed thousands. A statement from his office Thursday condemned the bombing.
The Pakistani Taliban have been fighting against the state in a bid to overthrow the government and install its own harsh brand of Islamic Shariah.
After initial stumbles, both the sides have seen some progress in the negotiations since February. A Pakistani government team has held one round of talks with the Pakistani Taliban, though the Taliban have called off a 40-day cease-fire they declared on March 1, alleging that the government was not serious in the talks.
Supporters of the talks argue that the negotiations were the only way forward to end the militant violence. Critics say the militants always have used such deals to strengthen their ranks to regroup and strike back with more force.
There were some militant attacks during the cease-fire by splinter groups, raising questions over whether the talks with the Taliban could help bring peace.