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Pakistani Taliban kill 23 at checkpoint

  • by RIAZ KHAN
 

TALIBAN militants wearing suicide vests killed 23 people at an army checkpoint in Pakistan yesterday.

Twelve attackers also were killed in the assault.

The raid, which claimed the lives of 13 civilians, came a day after a suicide bombing at a Shiite Muslim mosque elsewhere in the north-west that killed 24 people. The mosque blast was the latest in a rising number of attacks in the country.

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for both attacks. The group has been waging a bloody ins­urgency against the government for years and sometimes targets the country’s minority Shiites. The Taliban and allied militant groups have stepped up the pace of attacks in Pak­istan in recent months, an indication of their strength despite army operations against their strongholds in the north-west.

The raid on the army post in Serai Naurang town of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province began before dawn and lasted for hours. Two security officials said the militants killed ten civilians, including three women and three children, in a nearby house. In addition to the civilians, nine soldiers; four members of the Frontier Constabulary, a force that polices parts of north-western Pakistan; and 12 attackers also were killed in the fighting.

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Ahsanullah Ahsan claimed responsibility for the attack in a telephone call. He said four suicide bombers were involved in the attack. Ahsan said the attack was in retaliation for the recent deaths of two Taliban commanders in US drone strikes. He accused the Pakistani army of helping with the attacks. The attack on the mosque on Friday took place in Hangu town, also in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province. The town has experienced previous clashes between Sunni and Shiite communities there.

 

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