Pakistan Bombing Kills 11 Security Personnel, 2 Civilians; Pakistani Taliban Claim Responsibility

on May 23 2013 8:54 AM
Quetta
A security official collects evidence near the remains of a damaged vehicle at the site of a bomb blast in Quetta on May 23, 2013. Reuters

The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility on Thursday for an explosion that killed 11 security personnel and two civilians in Quetta, the capital of Baluchistan province, in the western part of the country, according to media reports.

The bombing on the city's outskirts coincided with Thursday’s fighting between militants and the Pakistani army in northwest Pakistan. 

The bomb was planted in a motorized rickshaw to target a truck carrying security personnel. Sixteen people were wounded in the attack, Reuters reported, citing local police.

“We proudly claim responsibility for Thursday's blast in Quetta, and the target was local police. The Baluchistan police recently arrested and killed some of our colleagues belonging to the Swat Taliban,” Taliban spokesman Ihsanullah Ihsan told Reuters.

Taliban militants have been trying to gain control over the Swat region in northwest Pakistan for years. 

Quetta, in the country's west and about 80 miles from the Afghan border, has been beset by sectarian violence between Sunni and Shiite Muslims for several months, with Shiite leaders calling on Pakistan’s military to take over security in the region to quell Sunni extremism.

The Pakistan government beefed up security in Quetta earlier this year, after a series of attacks on Shiite targets.

Meanwhile, in the Kurram tribal area near Pakistan’s border with Afghanistan, militants launched a raid on a Pakistani army checkpoint killing four soldiers, AP reported, citing police.

In a counter-attack, soldiers, equipped with helicopters and fighter jets, killed 20 militants, the report added.

The incidents came two days after Pakistan's presumptive prime minister Nawaz Sharif called for peace talks with the Taliban, risking the disapproval of Pakistan’s powerful army officials.

Sharif said “terrorism” was a serious issue and that any offer by the Pakistani Taliban to hold talks “should be taken seriously,” the AP reported.

A Taliban spokesman told the AP last week that the group would consider declaring a cease-fire if Sharif was serious about holding peace talks.

The run-up to Pakistan’s recent elections was marred by violence across the country.  The Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility for several bomb attacks on secular political parties.

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