- The Pakistani Taliban claim responsibility for the attack
- Officials had just announced plans for "phased withdrawal" of troops from some areas
- The blast is a troubling reminder of the region's volatility
A roadside bomb killed a top Pakistani general Sunday, just a day after officials announced plans to withdraw troops from a war-ravaged region near the border with Afghanistan.
The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed Maj. Gen. Sanaullah Khan, the commanding officer in Swat Valley. Two other officers were also killed, army officials said.
For years, troops have clashed with Taliban militants in Swat, which drew global attention last year when militants there shot teenager Malala Yousafzai point-blank in the head and neck after she defied the Taliban's ban against girls in school.
The Pakistani army has reclaimed control of the Swat Valley, where the Taliban held significant sway for years. But Sunday's attack was a troubling reminder of the region's volatility even as officials consider pulling out troops.
The roadside bombing occurred in the Upper Dir district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, in northern Pakistan near the border with Afghanistan.
On Saturday officials in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa announced for a "phased withdrawal" of troops from Upper Dir, Lower Dir and Swat.
And last week the Pakistani government announced plans to pursue renewed peace talks with Taliban militants.
But a Taliban spokesman said Sunday that there is no ceasefire with the Pakistani government, warning that such attacks will continue.
"We have killed them," Pakistani Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid said, "as they are killing us."
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif issued a statement expressing condolences over the slain officers' deaths Sunday.
"(The) Pakistan Army has made substantial sacrifices to protect the nation against the menace of terrorism," he said, "and such cowardly acts by terrorists cannot deter the morale of our armed forces."