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Pakistani Taliban bomb kills 12 policemen despite peace talks

A security official uses a tape to cordon off a site of a damaged police bus after an explosion in Karachi February 13, 2014. REUTERS/Athar
A security official uses a tape to cordon off a site of a damaged police bus after an explosion in Karachi February 13, 2014. REUTERS/Athar

By Syed Raza Hassan

ISLAMABAD (Reuters) - An explosion targeting a bus of Pakistani policemen killed 12 of them and wounded 58 near the city of Karachi on Thursday, officials said, in the latest incident of violence while the government and Pakistani Taliban are engaged in peace talks.

Pakistani Taliban spokesman Shahidullah Shahid claimed responsibility for the blast in a phone call to Reuters and said it was retaliation for the killing of Taliban prisoners.

Ten wounded policemen were in critical condition, said Dr Seemin Jamali, head of the emergency department at the city's Jinnah Medical Center.

It was unclear whether the blast was set off by a suicide bomber or a roadside bomb, said senior police officer Rao Anwar.

The bombing follows an attack on the home of a slain policemen that killed nine members of a pro-government militia on Wednesday, and a grenade attack on a cinema on Tuesday that killed 13.

Both attacks were in the northwestern city of Peshawar. Neither of those attacks was claimed by the Taliban.

But Pakistani Taliban spokesman Shahid claimed responsibility for the Thursday attack on the police bus in the southern city of Karachi saying it was in response for the killing of more than 20 militants in different jails.

The violence comes amid peace talks between government and Taliban-nominated representatives aimed at trying to end Pakistan's insurgency. Both sides are supposed to refrain from major attacks during the talks.

But many question whether the Taliban, who have repeatedly said they reject democracy and want Pakistan ruled according to a strict brand of Islamic law, will be able to strike a compromise with the government.

Others worry that there are too many militant groups in Pakistan to negotiate with. Several such groups, not included in the talks, have carried out bloody bombings of markets, churches, and mosques.

(Writing by Katharine Houreld; Editing by Clarence Fernandez and Robert Birsel)

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