PESHAWAR - A roadside bomb Sunday killed four paramilitary troops in Kurram district as they searched for militants linked to the kidnapping of a US-Canadian family who were freed last week.

“Four security force [Frontier Corps] troops including a captain embraced shahadat while three others sustained injuries when an improvised explosive device went off [near the Kharlachi checkpoint],” the military said in a statement.

The bomb planted by terrorists in the area near Pak-Afghan border went off during the search operation for the handlers of the abductors, according to the Inter Service Public Relation (ISPR).

American Caitlan Coleman, 31, her Canadian husband Joshua Boyle, 34, and their three young children were freed Wednesday by Pakistan Army hours after kidnappers transported them into Kurram from across the porous Afghan border.

US President Donald Trump praised and thanked Pakistani leaders for rescuing the family and described the action as “a positive moment” in bilateral relations, which through the years have been periodically marred by mutual distrust and suspicion.

The soldiers martyred in Kurram were identified as Captain Husnain, Sepoy Saeed Baz, Sepoy Qadir and Sepoy Jumma Gul, while the injured were Naik Anwar, Sepoy Zahir and Lance Naik Sher Afzal, who were shifted to a hospital in Parachinar.

Following the blast, law enforcement agencies cordoned off the area and launched a search operation. According to Kurram political administration, Kharlachi entry point was closed.

The Pakistani Taliban [TTP] claimed responsibility for the attack, giving a much higher death toll for the soldiers than what was officially reported. The terrorist group often issues inflated casualty tolls for such attacks.

Later, funeral prayer for the martyred troops was offered in FC Ground, Parachinar which was attended by Peshawar Corps commander and other military and civilian officials. The political administration said that the bodies were later shifted to their hometowns for burial.

Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi and Pakistan Peoples Party Chairman Bilawal Bhutto Zardari condemned the incident and expressed condolence to the bereaved families.

Saying that the country is passing through a difficult phase, Bilawal called terrorism a cancer that could only be treated through national unity.

Minister of State for Interior Talal Chaudhry said that the nation stands united against the menace of terrorism and he praised Pak Army for the sacrifice of lives for the security of the people.

Meanwhile, security forces conducted an IBO in village Machis of North Waziristan Agency and recovered a large quantity of arms including, rockets, machineguns, rifles, pistols along with a large quantity of ammunition.

In another related action, Frontier Corps Balochistan on Sunday apprehended 14 illegal Afghan nationals and recovered 45 kilograms of explosives, ammunition and weapons.

According to an Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) press release issued in Rawalpindi, the arrests and recovery of explosives, ammunition and weapons were made during intelligence based operations (IBOs) against terrorist hideouts in Pirkoh, Dera Bugti and Surki, Murgha Faqir Zai in Qila Saif Ullah.

INDIA FINANCING TERROR GROUPS IN AFGHANISTAN: FO

Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said that India is committing ceasefire violations because it cannot digest Pakistan’s successes in the war against terrorism.

He said on one side India is financing militant organisations in Afghanistan to carry out terrorist activities in Pakistan, while on the other, it is targeting civilian population along the Line of Control and Working Boundary.

He said Indian troops are attacking innocent civilians and children in Occupied Kashmir to deflect world attention from human rights violations. He said that targeting innocent civilian populations is a cowardice act.

Nafees Zakaria said that Pakistan is highlighting human rights violations in Occupied Kashmir by the Indian troops at all international fora effectively.

It is vital to mention here that Indian Army resorted to unprovoked intense fire in Satwal and Nikial Sectors on Saturday injuring Pakistani civilians.