Pakistan: At least one soldier has been killed while 11 others, mostly civilians, were wounded after a bomb went off in Balochistan province, officals said on Monday. The blast took place on Sunday near a vehicle carrying Pakistani paramilitary troops. The Pakistani Taliban have claimed responsibility for the attack.
Pakistan has been battling an insurgency in Baluchistan for more than a decade, with separatists in the province demanding complete autonomy or a larger share of the province's gas and mineral resources.
The outlawed Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan — or TTP as the Pakistani Taliban are known — and other militants also have a presence in the province, which borders Iran and Afghanistan. Sunday's bombing took place near the Musa Khan checkpoint in Quetta, the Baluchistan provincial capital, said local police official Mohammad Khan. He provided no further details.
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Pakistan Taliban claims responsibility
Shortly after the bombing, the Pakistani Taliban claimed responsibility, saying the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber. Police and security officials have not given confirmed the source of the blast. The latest incident comes a week after a suicide bomber killed 101 people at a mosque in the northwestern city of Peshawar, drawing nationwide condemnation and prompting Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif to convene a meeting of opposition politicians and his allies to discuss how to respond to the surge in militant violence.
The conference was initially planned for Tuesday but has been pushed back to Thursday. Pakistani officials have blamed the TTP, which maintains sanctuaries in neighbouring Afghanistan, for orchestrating the Peshawar bombing. The TTP has denied involvement. The militant group, however, has stepped up its attacks since November, when it ended a cease-fire with the government in Islamabad.
Sharif has invited his predecessor and opposition leader Imran Khan to Thursday's talks, but Khan has yet to confirm his participation. Since the Peshawar attack, members of civil society groups have staged rallies across the country, holding prayer ceremonies for the victims and demanding government take action to curb the surge in militant attacks.
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