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Pakistan Taleban bomb kills 12 policemen Almost 60 others wounded in explosion

KARACHI, Pakistan, Feb 13, (AFP): The Pakistani Taleban on Thursday claimed credit for a bomb blast that killed twelve policemen on a bus, the latest in a series of near-daily attacks since the government called for peace talks with militants. The explosion in the commercial hub of Karachi, which wounded almost 60 others, comes as Pakistan has been negotiating with the Taleban to end their seven-year insurgency that has claimed thousands of lives. Senior police officials initially said the early morning blast was a suicide attack in which a small Suzuki van had smashed into the police bus.

But Raja Umer Khatab, chief of the city’s counter-terrorism unit, later said the van had been parked on the hard shoulder along the bus’s route and was remotely detonated when the two vehicles were side by side. Shahid Nadeem Baloch, police chief for Sindh province which includes Karachi, confirmed the bomb was remotely detonated, adding the death toll was 12. Doctor Semi Jamali at Karachi’s Jinnah hospital said 58 people were injured - both police on the bus and civilian passersby. Nine of the injured police were in critical condition. The attack happened in an eastern district of Karachi near the national highway. Syed Qaim Ali Shah, chief minister of Sindh, announced compensation of two million rupees ($20,000) for families of the victims, and free medical treatment for the injured.

Tehreek-e-Taleban Pakistan (TTP) spokesman Shahidullah Shahid told AFP it was a revenge attack for the killing of militants. “We carried out the attack against the police because they are killing our people,” he said over the telephone from an undisclosed location. “Our defensive war will continue until an agreement is reached on a ceasefire” between negotiation teams representing the government and the Taleban. The Pakistani Taleban have recently stepped up their campaign against security forces in Karachi, assassinating a socalled “super cop” Chaudhry Aslam earlier this year. The attack was the 11th since Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced talks on Jan 29 and said he wants to “give peace another chance”. Provincial officials vowed the bombing would not deter their campaign to root out criminals and terrorists. “We are investigating this attack from all angles ...The forces will not be demoralised and will work more aggressively,” said Sharjeel Memon, provincial information minister.

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