Bomb kills three in Pakistan

2014-02-22 14:30
(STR, AFP)

(STR, AFP)

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Peshawar - A roadside bomb targeting a local leader of a nationalist party in northwest Pakistan killed three people and wounded two others on Saturday, police said.

The incident took place in Buner district in the troubled northwestern province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, close to Swat Valley where Taliban insurgents shot schoolgirl Malala Yousafzai in the head.

Police said the remote-controlled bomb hit the vehicle of Adalat Khan, a local leader of nationalist Qaumi Watan Party, killing him along with two associates.

"Adalat Khan and his two associates have been killed. Two others in the car were critically injured," Asif Iqbal, a senior police official told AFP.

No militant group has yet claimed responsibility for the attack, but a local intelligence official told AFP that Khan had supported an Anti-Taliban village militia in 2009. The head of that militia was later killed in a suicide attack in November 2012.

Separately, at least nine militants were killed on Saturday when Pakistani gunship helicopters pounded Taliban hideouts in Thall village in Hangu district, near the tribal areas where militants linked to the Taliban and al-Qaeda have strongholds, a security official told AFP.

"Gunship helicopters engaged the hideouts after confirmed reports of the terrorists' presence," the security official said.

These were the second air attacks against Taliban militants this month in retaliation at strikes by insurgents, which have derailed peace talks.

At least 30 militants were killed on Thursday after Pakistan jets carried out airstrikes on Taliban hideouts in the northwest.

The Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), an umbrella grouping of numerous militant factions, has been waging a bloody campaign against the Pakistani state since 2007, carrying out a number of bomb and gun attacks, often on military targets.

Peace talks between the Taliban and the government, announced on January 29, stalled this week due to a recent surge in insurgent attacks and a claim by a Taliban faction on Sunday that it had killed 23 kidnapped soldiers.

Government mediators have set a ceasefire as a precondition for another round of talks but Shahidullah Shahid, a spokesperson for Pakistani Taliban, on Friday blamed Islamabad for the deadlock and asked the state to declare a ceasefire first.

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