PESHAWAR: A suicide bomb attack targeting police in northwest Pakistan on Friday killed at least seven people, officers said, the latest violence to hit peace talks between the government and Taliban militants.
The blast came in the suburbs of the northwestern city of Peshawar, close to the lawless tribal areas that are a haven for Taliban and al-Qaeda linked militants.
Dialogue aimed at ending the Islamists’ seven-year insurgency, which has claimed thousands of lives, resumed last week with government negotiators saying the process was ready to move to a new phase.
But a ceasefire declared by the Pakistani Taliban on March 1 was shaken just two days later by a major attack on a court complex in Islamabad that left 11 people dead.
The main Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) faction denied that attack, which was claimed by a splinter group, but it nevertheless prompted many observers to question the militants’ com–mitment to dialogue.
Friday’s attack in Sarband village on the edge of Peshawar close to the Khyber tribal district came as Taliban negotiators met the TTP leadership to discuss the next steps in the talks process.
The target of the blast was a police armored personnel carrier, officers said.
“It was a suicide attack and the bomber approached the police vehicle on foot,” said Sr. Police Officer Najeeb-ur- Rahman.
“The death toll has been risen to seven. At least 28 people were also wounded.”
Nearly 7,000 people have been killed in militant attacks in Pakistan since the emergence of the TTP after a military raid on a radical mosque in 2007, according to an Agence France-Presse tally.