3 US soldiers among 9 killed in bombing in northwest Pakistan

Three US soldiers involved in the training of Pakistan’s paramilitary Frontier Corps were among nine people killed in a roadside bombing near a girls’ school in Pakistan’s insurgency-infested Northwest Frontier Province.

A massive bomb was detonated by the Taliban as the US soldiers traveled to attend the opening of a girls’ school in the village of Koto in Lower Dir, a settled district that borders Swat. Three children, two civilians, and a Frontier Corps official were also killed in the blast, while another 65 people, including many young girls and two US soldiers, were wounded in the attack, Geo News reported. A school was also damaged.

The US Embassy in Islamabad confirmed the attack, which it described as a “vicious terrorist bombing.”

“The Americans were U.S. military personnel in Pakistan to conduct training at the invitation of the Pakistan Frontier Corps,” the Islamabad embassy statement read. “They were in Lower Dir to attend the inauguration ceremony of a school for girls that had recently been renovated with U.S. humanitarian assistance.”

The US Central Command, or CENTCOM, the military command responsible for operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan, also confirmed that three US soldiers were killed, and said they were in Pakistan at the request of the government.

“The service members were assigned to the Office of the Defense Representative, Pakistan to conduct civil affairs-related training at the invitation of the Government of Pakistan,” the CENTCOM statement said.

The Taliban immediately called in after the blast to take credit. According to Dawn, Tariq Azam, the top spokesman for the Movement of the Taliban in Pakistan, said by telephone from an undisclosed location: “We claim responsibility for the blast.” He also attempted to link the dead US soldiers to the security company formerly called Blackwater, alleging that the soldiers were members of the company and that the company was “responsible for bomb blasts in Peshawar and other Pakistani cities.”

“We have warned we will take revenge and today we have avenged the deaths of innocent people,” Azam continued.

According to a Pakistani journalist traveling in the convoy, the US soldiers were dressed in civilian clothes and “Pakistani military guides referred to the foreigners traveling with them as journalists,” The Associated Press reported.

The US military has deployed Special Forces and other soldiers to serve as trainers to the Frontier Corps, the locally raised paramilitary organization that is on the front lines against the Taliban. The deployment of US soldiers in Pakistan has been a controversial issue, and the soldiers are not supposed to conduct military operations alongside the Frontier Corps units.

Last year, the Pakistani Army and the Frontier Corps carried out a military operation in Dir and neighboring Swat to dislodge the Taliban. The operation began in May 2009. In the fall, the Pakistani military claimed to have defeated the Taliban in Swat and Dir, but the military is still conducting sweeps in the region.

Bill Roggio is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Editor of FDD's Long War Journal.

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13 Comments

  • T Ruth says:

    Appalling, heartless! Condolences to all families.
    I’d like to know whether the local people there feel there’s any point in talking to these sickos.

  • batman says:

    U.S. soldiers deployed inside Pakistan? First I’ve heard of this. I know we do cross border stuff. Seems like a scheduled event, predictable route, traveling with locals, obvious spies all about = dangerous duty!

  • BraddS says:

    The TTP are so desperate for U.S. casualties that they are willing to blow up a bunch of schoolgirls for the chance of getting some, but Hakeemullah is still alive and unhurt…..riiiiiiiiight……..

  • Mike says:

    I’m surprised it’s taken this long for one of our guys in Pakistan to end up in the news this way. I’m surprised they would be showing up for a public event, like christening a school, since it’s sort of an open secret that we’ve got military presence inside Pakistan.

  • Dsanny says:

    Time to bring out the B-52s ???

  • Bungo says:

    It’s been publicly stated by the US Administration (not sure exactly who it was) that we have special forces trainers/instructors in Pak training irregular indiginous forces to protect themselves from the Taiban.

  • Pakistaniat says:

    These guys are animals. They are willing to kill Pakistani children to please their Arab masters. No Pakistani supports them and the deaths of US soldiers were not in vain.

  • kp says:

    The report at CNN is they were Civil Affairs troops in the “build and hold” follow up.

    //www.cnn.com/2010/WORLD/asiapcf/02/03/pakistan.blast/index.html

    They’re not SF. I’m pretty sure we have a bunch of US Army there in Civil Affairs, Military training, and the like but few SF (that would annoy the Pakistani govt).

  • Spooky says:

    These guys train the Frontier Corps and (officially anyway) are not on combat duty). It was no secret, just not publicized much because of rampant Anti-Americanism in Pakistan that is sure to explode now that this has happened. Already they think their Xe conspiracies have credence due to the Ambassador misspeaking, now this will confirm everything.
    There is only so long we can bend the Pakistani regime before the friendlies are thrown out for not looking out for Pakistani interests (both real and percieved).
    Things in the region (specifically Pakistan) are spiralling out of control. Tensions with India are BACK on the rise, the government is a hairs breadth away from being sucker-punched, and the military is agitated with the US. Convoys can’t even get out of Karachi without getting attacked.
    When will the other shoe finally drop? The tensions have been building for a year and a half how.

  • KW64 says:

    If you judge people by the nature of their enemies, the US armed forces are terrific.

  • Paul says:

    Hope our boy’s & contractors in Pak keep safe. I would think this put’s a dangerous bullseye on them.

  • Minnor says:

    Pak army insider passed info to taliban. Including vehicle color, time, even real time info and everthing. Any doubt? Rather foolishness of US people to trust backstabber over and over again.
    Bajaur need to be secured to secure Dir. They took back Damadola this week, very sad they took this long to secure full of Bajaur.

  • Mr T says:

    Yep, we have forces in Pakistan, trainers, special forces, drones, whatever. We don’t have to publicly announce everything we do but rest assured, we are coming after you.

Iraq

Islamic state

Syria

Aqap

Al shabaab

Boko Haram

Isis