Military: Forces raid hideout, kill 12 Pakistani Taliban

ISLAMABAD (AP) — Security forces acting on intelligence raided a hideout of Pakistani Taliban insurgents along the border with Afghanistan, triggering an intense shootout that left 12 militants dead, the country's military said Wednesday.

The pre-dawn raid came amid soaring tensions in Pakistan and in the aftermath of a mosque bombing last week that killed 101 people in Peshawar. Pakistani officials blamed the blast on the the outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, which denied involvement.

Pakistani Taliban have a strong presence in Lakki Marwat, where they have launched multiple attacks in recent months. Overnight in the district in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, security forces launched the operation after monitoring the insurgents for a week, according to a military statement.

“Terrorists were lured in by providing a vehicle for escape that was intercepted and neutralized," it said. The military said troops also recorded a case of weapons, munition and Afghan currency.

There was no immediate comment from TTP.

The overnight operation against TTP was the first major confrontation since November, when the militant group halted a monthslong ceasefire with the government and resumed attacks on troops and police across the country.

The TTP, which maintains sanctuaries in neighboring Afghanistan, is separate from but a close ally of the Afghan Taliban. Pakistani Taliban have waged an insurgency in Pakistan in the past 15 years, seeking stricter enforcement of Islamic laws, the release of its members in government custody and a reduction in the Pakistani military presence in areas of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province it has long used as its base.

Pakistani Taliban, most of whom are hiding in Afghanistan, have been emboldened since the Afghan Taliban seized power in Afghanistan in August 2021 as U.S. and NATO troops pulled out of the country after 20 years of war.