A suicide bomber riding on a motorcycle has targeted a security convoy in northwest Pakistan, killing at least nine soldiers and wounding 20 others, the military and three security officials said, a sign of increasing militant violence.
The attack happened on Thursday in Bannu, a district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan, the military said in a statement. It said five soldiers were wounded in the attack.
However, security officials put the number of wounded persons at 20. They spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to speak to the media on the record.
"The area has been cordoned by security forces and sanitisation is being carried out to eliminate any terrorists found in the area," according to the Inter-Services Public Relations Department.
Security forces have been patrolling the area to ensure civilian safety.
There was no immediate claim from any group, but the suspicion is likely to fall on the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), who have stepped up attacks on security forces since 2022.
Dozens of security personnel have been killed in fighting and suicide bombings, mostly claimed by the TTP, an umbrella of militant groups in Pakistan, in recent months.
Authorities state that the insurgents have discovered sanctuaries and have even been openly residing in Afghanistan since the Taliban takeover, which has also emboldened them; however, Kabul rejects this accusation.
There was no immediate comment from the army.
Bannu is located near the former militant stronghold of North Waziristan, which served as a base for insurgents until the army years ago announced that it had cleared the region of local and foreign militants.
Occasional attacks have continued, however, raising concerns that the TTP, are regrouping in the area.