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Central & South Asia

Pakistan PM vows to continue Taliban talks

At least three killed in Karachi attacks as Sharif warns groups "this game of fire and explosives must end now."

Last updated: 29 Jan 2014 13:16
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Paramilitary Rangers were the targets of the latest attacks on Karachi [Reuters]

Pakistan has reiterated the government's commitment to a dialogue-first approach to the violence, while clarifying that "terrorisim and dialogue cannot go together."

In an address to the National Assembly on Wednesday, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif announced the formation of a four-member committee of non-parliamentarians to initiate dialogue between the government and the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP).

He did not give a timescale or outline the mandate of the committee.

"I am trying to do this in the spirit of unity and hope we will move forward in that spirit [with other parties]," he said. "This game of fire and explosives must end now."

Sharif's government has been under fire for failing to make a strong response to the upsurge in violence, particularly against military personnel.

Responding to the formation of the committee, TTP spokesperson Shahidullah Shahid told Al Jazeera that a Taliban leadership meeting would be convened in the coming days at an undisclosed location to discuss the offer.

He said that there was "no rift" between the Taliban's leadership and that the group was united under new chief Mullah Fazlullah.

The TTP also claimed responsibility for deadly attacks earlier on Wednesday on security forces in the southern city of Karachi.

Three members of the paramilitary Rangers were killed in separate attacks in Karachi, Pakistan police said.

Senior police officer Amir Farooqi said attackers threw a grenade at a vehicle carrying Rangers in the Nazimabad neighbourhood, killing one of them.

Minutes later, a roadside bomb wounded three security personnel in the same area, he said.

Suicide attack

Farooqi added that about an hour later, a suicide bomber blew himself up outside the headquarters of the paramilitary Rangers, killing one Ranger and a private guard.

"The suicide attacker walked in and tried to enter into the gate when he was intercepted by the security officials and he blew himself up," Farooqi told AFP.

Some of the attackers were detained by Rangers, although it is not clear which incident they were involved in.

Karachi is the capital of southern Sindh province. It has been the scene of scores of such attacks against security personnel in recent years.

The injured were taken to the nearby Abbasi Shaheed Hospital for treatment.

Earlier this month a Taliban suicide attacker killed one of Pakistan's best-known police commanders, famed for his work tackling armed groups in the city.

Pakistan has endured a bloody start to the year with more than 100 people killed in attacks in January, according to an AFP tally.

With additional reporting by Asad Hashim in Islamabad.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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