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Gunmen kill nine at Pakistani policeman's home as peace talks proceed

Source: Reuters - Wed, 12 Feb 2014 07:08 GMT
Author: Reuters
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By Syed Raza Hassan

ISLAMABAD, Feb 12 (Reuters) - Gunmen tossed hand grenades into the house of a slain Pakistani police officer on Wednesday, police said, killing nine men in an attack coinciding with peace talks between the government and Pakistan Taliban militants.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the early morning assault on the house on the outskirts of the northwestern city of Peshawar. On Tuesday, attackers hurled grenades into a Peshawar cinema, killing 13.

The peace talks between government representatives and Taliban are taking place in the capital Islamabad, about 200 km (120 miles) to the east. Both sides are supposed to refrain from attacks while talks proceed, although there is no formal ceasefire.

It was not immediately clear why the gunmen targeted the house of the policeman, a mid-ranking inspector killed in a shoot-out with militants last Sunday.

About a dozen men threw grenades over the house's walls in the early hours of the morning and then clambered over, Peshawar Police Chief Ijaz Khan Mohmand told Reuters.

"After entering, they shot all the men in the in the house using AK-47 rifles," he said. Women and children in the house were spared.

Peshawar, a sprawling provincial capital, is the gateway to Pakistan's frontier with Afghanistan and has been badly hit by militant violence.

Pakistani Taliban insurgents have been battling for years to topple the government, banish democracy and establish their brand of Islamist rule. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif wants to negotiate a settlement and stop the fighting.

Many experts are doubtful that talks will succeed - previous deals have all collapsed in violence. Some worry any governing role for the Taliban is incompatible with the country's laws.

Others point out that even if the government clinches a deal with the Taliban, there are many more militant groups that routinely target civilians. (Reporting by Syed Raza Hassan; Editing by Ron Popeski)

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