By Jibran Ahmad
PESHAWAR, Pakistan, Feb 18 – Pakistani Taliban militants on Thursday shot and killed at least nine security forces personnel in two separate attacks in a volatile northwestern region, security and government officials said.
Since 2007, the Pakistani Taliban have been waging an insurgency in the area around Mohmand, about 177 km (110 miles) from Islamabad, the capital, to demand imposition of a strict interpretation of sharia, or Muslim religious law.
Several military operations, the most recent begun in 2014, have reduced the number of large-scale militant attacks in the region, but security forces and civilians are occasionally still targeted.
Two members of the Khasadar paramilitary force on guard duty were shot dead, followed by an attack on a village checkpost in Akar that killed seven, said Naveed Akbar, a senior government official in Mohmand.
Another government official, Khyal Nabi, confirmed the death toll, saying the bodies were being handed over to their families for burial.
The Jamaat-ur-Ahrar faction of the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack.
“Jamaat-ur-Ahrar accepts responsibility for both attacks with this vow that until the imposition of sharia our attacks will remain ongoing, God willing,” spokesman Ehsanullah Ehsan said in an email statement to Reuters.
Last month, militants killed at least 20 people, mostly students, at the Bacha Khan University, about 48 km (30 miles) distant from the sites of Thursday’s attacks.
Pakistan’s northwestern Mohmand region has been the traditional home of ethnic groups such as the Mohmand, Musa Khail and Shalizi.