PESHAWAR, Pakistan – A two-star major general with the Pakistani army and two subordinate officers were killed Sunday by a roadside bomb in the volatile Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province near the border with Afghanistan, officials said.
Maj. Gen. Sanaullah Niazi and the other officers were reportedly returning from an inspection of Pakistan border posts when their vehicle hit the mine in the Shahi Kot area of the Upper Dir district. The major general and his two colleagues died on the spot, officials said, reportedly the first time such a senior officer was killed by militants in the area. At least two other soldiers reportedly were injured.
The attack came after major political parties agreed last week to pursue peace talks with the Pakistani Taliban, which is loosely affiliated with its counterpart in Afghanistan. It also came a day after the provincial government announced that troops would withdraw from the troubled Malakand region, of which Upper Dir is a part. Niazi commanded forces in Malakand, where the army was deployed in 2007 and 2009 in an attempt to crush the insurgency.
Naizi’s killing – along with some reports that the Taliban are calling for the release of jailed militants and withdrawal of troops from all tribal areas as part of any negotiations – could make it more difficult to proceed with peace talks.
The Taliban claimed responsibility for Sunday’s attack, according to an individual close to the group, who spoke on condition of anonymity.