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Police Targeted in Peshawar Bombing

by AFP
Victims of a bombing in Peshawar, February 2014. Hasham Ahmed—AFP

Victims of a bombing in Peshawar, February 2014. Hasham Ahmed—AFP

At least seven killed, another 28 injured in blast targeting armored personnel carrier.

A suicide bomb attack targeting police in Peshawar on Friday killed at least seven people, officers said, as the government tries to negotiate peace with the Taliban.

The blast came in Sarband village on the edge of Peshawar close to the Khyber tribal district. The target of the blast was a police armored personnel carrier, officers said.

“It was a suicide attack and the bomber approached the police vehicle on foot,” said Najeeb-ur- Rahman, a senior police officer. “The death toll has risen to seven. At least 28 people were also wounded.”

Mohammad Faisal, another police officer, confirmed the attack and death toll.

Nearly 7,000 people have been killed in militant attacks in Pakistan since the emergence of the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) after a military raid on a radical mosque in 2007, according to an AFP tally.

Dialogue aimed at ending the Islamists’ seven-year insurgency, which has claimed thousands of lives, resumed last week with government negotiators saying the process was ready to move to a new phase. But a ceasefire declared by the Pakistani Taliban on March 1 was shaken just two days later by a major attack on a court complex in Islamabad that left 11 people dead.

The main TTP faction denied that attack, which was claimed by a splinter group, but it nevertheless prompted many observers to question the militants’ commitment to dialogue. Friday’s attack occurred as Taliban negotiators met the TTP leadership to discuss the next steps in the peace talks process.

Continued militant violence, the Islamabad court attack and a roadside bomb targeting security forces last week have threatened to derail the talks. More than 120 have died in attacks since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced dialogue with the militants in late January. Talks were a key campaign pledge for Sharif before he was elected to office for a third time last year.

But many analysts are skeptical about their chances for success, given the Taliban’s demands for nationwide shariah law and a withdrawal of troops from the lawless tribal zones.

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