Pakistan militant attacks kill 8

Last updated 19:52 22/04/2014

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Two militant attacks in northwestern Pakistan killed eight people, including five policemen, on Tuesday, officials said.

In one of the attacks, gunmen ambushed a police patrol on the outskirts of the city of Peshawar, killing five policemen and a civilian, said police officer Fazal Wahid.

He said the police chased the attackers and killed some of the militants in a shootout.  

And in the neighbouring Charsadda attack, a bomb rigged to a motorcycle exploded close to a police van, killing two bystanders, said police officer Sharifullah Khan.

Both officers said nearly 20 policemen were wounded in the two attacks.    

There was no claim of responsibility for the attacks but provincial police chief Nasir Durrani said the attacks were retaliation for recent arrests of militants in the region.

Durrani said the police had rounded up many Taliban militants and seized much arms, ammunition and explosives.

The Pakistani government has been trying to negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban in efforts to end years of fighting in the northwest that has killed thousands of people.

The northwest and its adjoining tribal areas bordering Afghanistan has strongholds and sanctuaries of the local and foreign al-Qaida linked militants.  

The militant group, known as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan, announced a one-month ceasefire on March 1 and then extended it for another 10 days.

But last Wednesday, the Taliban said they will not renew a ceasefire, though they will still continue the talks with the government.  

The announcement, which came after Pakistan's Interior Minister Nisar Ali Khan said that comprehensive talks with the militants would start within days, has cast doubts on the future of a peace process pushed by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif's government.  

The Taliban statement that called off the ceasefire did not explicitly say whether the group would refrain from or resume attacks against Pakistani government forces.

The two sides held one round of direct talks on March 26.

Khan, the interior minister, said last week that the government was releasing about 30 prisoners requested by the Pakistani Taliban to facilitate the process.

Meanwhile, the UN children's agency said two of its Pakistani staffers abducted last week in the southern port city of Karachi have been released and were reunited with their families.

There were no details on who abducted the UNICEF staff members or how they were released.

PAKISTAN MISSILE TEST

Pakistan’s military says it has successfully test-fired a short-range missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead.  

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A military statement says the Hatf III Ghaznavi missile with a range of 290 kilometres was launched on Tuesday from an undisclosed location.

It says the test was conducted during a field training exercise and that the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee Gen. Rashad Mahmood and other officers were present.

Afterward, Mahmood congratulated scientists and engineers involved for the successful launch.  

Pakistan, which became a nuclear power in 1998, routinely test-fires what it claims are indigenously developed missiles.

The international community closely watches its weapons program as Pakistan has fought three wars with its nuclear-armed archenemy and neighbour India after gaining independence since 1947. 

- AP

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