PESHAWAR, Pakistan – A suicide bomber struck near Pakistani army headquarters on Monday, killing at least 13 people, including six soldiers, in the second major attack on Pakistan’s security forces in as many days.
Eighteen others were wounded in the garrison city of Rawalpindi, police officials said, when a man riding a bicycle blew himself up as police tried to stop him near a military police checkpoint.
The Pakistani Taliban coalition of insurgents claimed responsibility, just as they had for the previous day’s attack, when a bomb exploded inside an army base in northwest Pakistan as a convoy of security forces was preparing to depart for the volatile North Waziristan region. The area is located inside Pakistan’s tribal belt near the border with Afghanistan, where soldiers and paramilitary forces have been battling the militant organization.
At least 22 soldiers were killed and 30 others wounded, many of them critically, in Sunday’s bombing.
The twin attacks mark a significant escalation in the Pakistani Taliban’s campaign of attacks and raises new questions about Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s efforts to engage the insurgent group – which aims to overthrow the government and establish a hard-line Islamic state – in peace talks. Taliban leaders have claimed they are ready for talks but continue to carry out violent attacks.
In response to the violence, Sharif, elected last May, canceled a visit to Switzerland, where he was to attend the World Economic Forum in Davos.