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Pakistan airstrikes target militants, 16 killed Bomb kills four, including a police officer

KARACHI, Pakistan, April 24, (AP): A bombing in southern Pakistan killed a police officer known for his anti-militant campaigns and three other people on Thursday while army officials said the Pakistani air force carried out airstrikes against insurgents in a northwestern tribal region, killing 16 militants. The airstrikes pounded two militant hideouts in a remote area of Tirah Valley in the Khyber tribal region near the Afghan border, three military officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Two officials said the military acted on intelligence that militants responsible for some of the latest terror attacks in Islamabad and elsewhere were hiding there. They said that apart from the airstrikes, ground troops were also taking part in the operation, which was still underway in Tirah Valley.

On April 9, a bomb had ripped through an outdoor fruit and vegetable market on the outskirts of Islamabad, killing 22 people and wounding dozens others. An army officer said the strikes carried out after confirmation that terrorists involved the recent bombing in Islamabad and attacks on police and security officers in the northwest were hiding there. In the attack in the south, a bomb aimed at officer Shafiq Tanoli exploded in downtown Karachi, said police official Pir Mohammad Shah.

The explosion in the port city appeared to be a suicide bombing, Shah said. It killed Tanoli and three other people — the officer’s uncle and two friends — while two other people were wounded, Shah added. No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack but Shah said Tanoli, who survived several attempts on his life in the past, was targeted for his active campaigning against terrorists. He was advised to take stringent security measures for his own safety. Tanoli was meeting friends and relatives at a shop close to his home when the bomb went off, said another police officer, Nasir Lodhi. He added that police suspected a teenage boy had detonated the explosives tied to his body. Pakistani government has been trying to negotiate a peace deal with the Taleban in efforts to end years of fighting that has killed thousands of people.

The militants have been fighting to overthrow the government in a bid to install their harsh brand of Islamic Shariah. The Pakistani Taleban, known as Tehrik-e-Taleban Pakistan or TTP, announced a one-month ceasefire on March 1 and then extended it for another 10 days. But last week, they said they will not renew the ceasefire though they will still continue the talks with the government.

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