IED explosion claimed by Pakistani Taliban.
At least two local employees of the U.S. consulate in Peshawar have been killed in an explosion while out on an anti-narcotics mission, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said Tuesday.
The top American diplomat said several Pakistani soldiers also died in the blast involving an improvised explosive device (IED). “Just this morning I woke to the news that we have lost two local employees in Peshawar who worked with our consulate there who were going out on an effort to eradicate narcotics fields,” Kerry said at an event. “An IED exploded and several were lost. A few of the soldiers who were there to guard them also,” he added, without going into more specifics.
The Jamaat-ul-Ahrar faction of the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. It said four other Pakistanis were injured in the blast.
The State Department subsequently said the two Pakistani employees of the U.S. Mission in Pakistan were killed earlier Tuesday in an attack on a Pakistani government anti-narcotics force convoy in an area of the country’s vast tribal zones that border Afghanistan. “The U.S. government strongly condemns the attack,” spokesman John Kirby said. “Pakistan has suffered greatly at the hands of terrorists and violent extremists,” he added. “The United States stands in solidarity with the people of Pakistan and all who fight the scourge of terrorism.”
News of the deaths comes after Kerry welcomed Foreign Affairs adviser Sartaj Aziz to the State Department Monday for talks on the “strategic” partnership between their two countries centered around cooperation in the anti-terror fight.
Peshawar, located in northwest Pakistan, made somber global headlines in December 2014 when the Taliban attacked a school there, massacring some 150 people, mostly children, prompting the country’s army to intensify its offensive against Islamist militants.