The explosion Sunday in the Upper Dir district killed Maj. Gen. Sanaullah Khan, who was returning after visiting troop posts near the border with Afghanistan, the military in a statement. A lieutenant colonel identified only as Touseef and a soldier, identified as Irfan Sattar, were also killed.
The outlawed Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, or TTP, blamed for much of the recent violence in the region, claimed responsibility for the attack, the Pakistan Observer reported. It quoted a TTP spokesman as saying the explosion was the work of the TTP chapter in the Swat valley, where the Pakistani military had been involved in a major operation to drive out militants.
CNN reported Gen. Sanaullah Khan was the commanding officer in the Swat Valley.
The Observer said the incident could be a serious blow to the government's efforts to end the insurgency in the region. It quoted experts as saying they believe the decision to kill top military officials was planned and executed by a disgruntled TTP group that opposes peace talks.
The attack came a day after the provincial government agreed in principle to a gradual withdrawal of the military from Swat, the report said.
Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif telephoned Pakistani army chief, Gen. Ashfaq Parvez Kayani to express condolence over the deaths of the three men, and said the Pakistani Army had made countless sacrifices in fighting the scourge of terrorism, the state-run Associated Press of Pakistan reported.