Gunmen stormed into a school in volatile northwest Pakistan on Thursday, killing seven teachers and killing another teacher at the school in a separate attack. Earlier in the day, a shootout with militants elsewhere in the region killed six Pakistani soldiers.
The violence underscores the challenges Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif’s government is facing amid a spate of militant attacks across the country in recent months.
In Kurram, a district in the northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa bordering Afghanistan, a group of armed men stormed a government school where students were taking their exams. The seven teachers killed were members of Pakistan’s minority Shia community, which is often targeted by militants.
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Another teacher at the same school, a Sunni Muslim, was shot dead on the road in a separate attack earlier in the day in Kurram, according to local police officer Abbas Ali.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks and Ali said it was unclear whether they were related.
“We are looking into all aspects and so far we have no idea who killed the teachers,” he said. The prime minister condemned the attacks on teachers and ordered an investigation into the killings.
On Thursday, six soldiers were killed in a shootout in North Waziristan, another district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The military did not provide details of the shooting but said three militants were also killed.
The region is a former stronghold of the Pakistani Taliban – the outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, as the group is also known – and other militants as well. TTP is a separate group but allied with the Afghan Taliban.
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The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan in August 2021 emboldened the TTP, which escalated attacks across Pakistan, primarily targeting security forces. The military has also carried out multiple raids on militant hideouts in the northwest in recent weeks, killing and arresting dozens of insurgents.
Aside from the spate of militant attacks, Sharif’s cash-strapped government is also struggling to re-launch a rescue package from the International Monetary Fund and recover from last year’s massive floods that killed hundreds and caused $30 billion in damage. of dollars.